The Jamaican Economy expanded by 0.1% for the first quarter of 2017 relative to the corresponding quarter of 2016. The growth resulted mainly from improvements in the Services industries which increased by 0.4%. The overall Goods Producing industries posted a decline in the period despite gains by the Manufacturing and Construction industries. The Goods Producing industries declined by 0.9% due mainly to a 3.6% decrease in Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing and a 9.9% reduction in Mining & Quarrying. All industries within the Services segment saw an increase in output with the exception of the Producers of Government Services which was unchanged.
Goods Producing Industries
The Manufacturing Industry posted a 2.7% expansion due to larger output levels in the Food, Beverages & Tobacco sub-industry. According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), “Food, Beverages & Tobacco grew by 5.0 per cent while the Other Manufacturing sub-industry fell by 0.7 per cent.” The growth in Food, Beverages & Tobacco was due to, “an increase in the subgroups: sugar & molasses, meat & meat products, bakery products, prepared animal feeds, processing of fruits & vegetables and beverages.” The decrease in Other Manufacturing was attributed to lesser output levels in petroleum refining and non-metallic mineral products.
The Industry between January and March 2017 displayed a growth of 0.6%, due mainly to higher levels of output in building construction and building installation sub-groups. The driving force behind the increase was building construction, which was positively impacted by the construction of non-residential construction including hotel construction and renovation during quarter. However, there was, “lower level of expenditure on civil engineering works even while work continued on the Marcus Garvey Drive roadway and the Mandela Highway,” as per STATIN.
Mining & Quarrying
Mining & Quarrying booked the largest contraction of 9.9% for the period. The reduction in value added was due to declines recorded in the production of both alumina and crude bauxite. The reduction in alumina production was due to operational problems at one of the factories and heavy rainfall, while lower output levels of crude bauxite resulted from the loss of market share from the United States of America.
The Electricity & Water Supply
The Electricity & Water Supply industry recorded growth of 0.5% due to high electricity consumption and increased water production. According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), “electricity consumption increased by 0.3 per cent, moving from 755,719 MWh in 2016 to 758,118 MWh in 2017. Water production moved from 17,089.5 million gallons in 2016 to 17,420.0 million gallons in 2017, an increase of 1.9 per cent.” The climb in water production was as a result of higher rainfall experienced during the quarter.
The Hotels & Restaurants
The Hotels & Restaurants industry recorded a 1.1% expansion driven by improved performance in hotel & other short-stay accommodation and restaurants, bars and canteens. The growth was mainly impacted by an increase in foreign national arrivals during the quarter. Foreign national visits for the quarter totalled 555,218 versus 549,802 in 2016. Contributing to the higher numbers were increased arrivals from Canada (6.4%), Europe (1.5%) and Latin America (4.2%). However, a decline in arrivals was recorded from the United States of America (0.9%).
Other Services Industries
Additionally, other sub-services industries posted the following growths; Wholesale & Retail Trade; Repairs; Installation of Machinery & Equipment (0.3%), Transport, Storage & Communication (0.4%), Finance & Insurance Services (1.0%), Real Estate, Renting & Business Activities (0.3%) and Other Services (0.4%).