Timepieces/Data & Statistics
Virgin Islands Manufacturing Steadies
Production is down, but less than in previous years
A substantial decline in watch manufacturing in the U.S. Virgin Islands has begun to level out thanks to new incentives designed to increase production.
Historically, several large companies manufactured and assembled watches in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and most were reimported to the U.S. mainland for distribution. But production fell dramatically in the 1990s, spurring aid packages by the end of the decade.
The manufacturers now benefit from a federal program that allows them duty-free imports (up to a certain unit figure per company) and reimbursed labor costs. The Production Incentive Certificate, for example, reimburses up to 90% of a watch manufacturers labor costs. (In 1999, the program was expanded to include jewelry manufacturers. In 2000, jewelry accounted for 25% of the $3.5 million reimbursed.)
The American Watch Association is working with the Virgin Islands to advance legislation that would further strengthen incentives for increased production. Such legislation, in addition to enhancing the current programs, would compensate manufacturers if all watch tariffs worldwide are eliminated.
American Watch Association, Washington, DC; (703) 759-3377.
by Michael Thompson