Still some life in manufacturing

Minister Denis Kellman (centre) chatting with manufacturers this morning.

“Manufacturing is not dead.”

In fact, as Minister of Industry and Small Business, Denis Kellman, made this declaration this morning at the opening of the 2012 Manufacturers’ Forum, he followed it with clear statistics of increased exports in the rum, chemicals and other productss.

The minister noted that productivity in manufacturing was down, but when one examined certain export figures, those were up this year compared with a similar period last year.

“If we take a look at the economic performance thus far for this year, it would be noted that during the period January to May, 2012 when compared to the same period in 2011, the manufacturing sector suffered negative growth in production volumes in all sub-sectors with the exception of food, which registered a 1.63 percentage increase.

“During the first five months of 2012, gross productivity declined by 7.08 per cent when compared to the corresponding period for in 2011. This drop in productivity follows a decline in production quantities in the comparative time periods between 2010 and 2011 by approximately 5.26 per cent.

“Evidently, this is reflective of a sector whose capacity is under utilised, making it more difficult to be competitive, particularly against a backdrop of cheaper internationally produced products,” he stated.

Nonetheless, Kellman noted: “Export performance during the same period January to May 2012 paints a different picture. Statistics have shown that exports grew by 20.25 per cent when compared to the same referenced period in 2011.”

Singling out specific sub-sectors that had grown, he said rum had led the way with a recorded growth rate of 53 per cent, followed by “other manufacturing” which had an export rate of 15 per cent and chemicals, which recorded a growth rate of 14 per cent.

This, he stated, was where the resilience in manufacturing was evident, despite the declining productivity levels.

He noted: “I bring these statistical facts to you this morning to say one thing — manufacturing is not dead!

“Nonetheless, where we go from here will be determined by all represented here, drawn from the various fields and disciplines within our economic landscape. The fact that manufacturing can achieve growth in its export sector, in the midst of a protracted global economic crisis, suggests that it has found ways in which it can add value to its product offering in a manner that has taken advantage of niches within the international market place.”

He said though that he believed the sector could be strengthen if a collective, team effort was adopted.

“Public and private sector organisations must be encouraged to support locally produced products in every sphere of economic activity as it is the sure way to alleviate poverty and lift the social-stratosphere of our nation.” (LB)

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