Thursday, February 14, 2013

Jamaica - Foreign Private Sector Investment and IR Dependency Theory

“Dependency theory emerged in the 1960s as a critique of the modernization approach. It focused on the allegedly baleful legacy for developing countries, not only of imperialism, but also of the Western-dominated international economic system” (Cook, 2013).

Jamaica is a developing island nation, the third largest in the Caribbean, which has surpassed the 2.7 million people in population and falls under a representative, or parliamentary, democracy government structure. The country is riddled by crime, corruption and poverty. Natural resources in Jamaica consist of forestry, agriculture (cane, bananas, coconuts, coffee, tobacco rice), and Minerals (Bauxite, gypsum, limestone, marble, silica). The state of Jamaica has only been an independent nation for slightly over 50 years, and was previously under British control when “at midnight on Aug. 6, 1962, in the national stadium, the flag of the British empire was lowered for the final time and replaced by the gold, black and green Jamaican flag” (McFadden, 2012).

Jamaica, being relatively young in gaining independence from British colonialism, seems to fall heavily within the conditions described under dependency theory in that the Jamaican economy is shaped and reliant on foreign industrialized actors, in this case by American and international private sector corporations unleashed under the North American Free Trade Agreement, established in 1994. In attempting to narrow down one example of dependency theory, which today appears to rest on international corporate actors instead of solely relying on developed foreign government economies on the international stage, I came across a trade and investment agency named the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO). This gateway entity, which operates under the Jamaican government’s Ministry of industry, Investment and Commerce, facilitates foreign investments into the country. The list of foreign and international corporations that invest in Jamaica, and therefore establish economic dependency, are numerous and the names well known to most Americans: Microsoft, Fujitsu, IBM, Xerox, Citibank, Alcoa, Texaco, Sealy, and these are only a few of the larger known conglomerates. There are already a very large number of foreign corporations in Jamaica, and it appears that this developmental economic reliance, which theorists from the Marxist school of thought might term exploitation, appears to be expanding.

With expansion plans to expand the Panama Canal by 2015, commercial maritime activity is expected to boom. The government of Jamaica, with assistance from the World Bank Group and JAMPRO, plans to create a massive logistics hub in order to become a major logistics link in the global free market chain. The proposed project, announced in January, is the centerpiece of the Jamaican Government’s growth strategy and is expected to create jobs and position Jamaica on the international stage alongside Rotterdam, Singapore and Dubai. Of course, the World bank Group and their international private sector investors have already been able to get their hands into the early phases of the project as the “World bank has been working closely with the Industry, Investment and Commerce Ministry over the past month and a half to determine how best to take advantage of Jamaica’s competitive edge in terms of attracting specific investments” (Smith-Edwards, 2013).

Cook, Elizabeth. Lesson Notes Week 2 Theories of Development. AMU. Accessed February 12, 2013 from

Herath, Dhammika. Development Discourse of the Globalists and Dependency Theorists: Do the Globalisation Theorists Rephrase and Reward the Central Concepts of the Dependency School? Third World Quarterly, 29 (4), 2008.

Investing in Jamaica 2012. JAMPRO Trade and Investment. Jamaican Ministry of Industry, Investment and Trade. Accessed February 13, 2013 from

Lee, Wendy. Introduction to the Geography and Natural Resources of Jamaica. Hofstra University, 1985. Accessed on Febriary 13, 2013 from

Smith-Edwards, Alecia. World Bank to Provide Assistance on Logistics Hub Project. Jamaican Information Service. Government of Jamaica, February 12, 2013. Accessed on February 13, 2013 from

U.S. Department of State. The Bureau of Consular Travel. Jamaica, 2011. Accessed on February 13, 2013 from

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