Jamaica’s logistics Hub Initiative is to get new life, says Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who declared the development of the logistics sector a national project.
Holness made the announcement last month during his contribution to the Budget Debate in the House of Representatives.
The prime minister said the Government intends to develop special economic zones where light manufacturing and assembly operations can be undertaken for the international market; create an environment to attract ‘anchor’ investors and other innovative knowledge-based firms to relocate their regional and international operations to Jamaica.
Holness pointed to the special economic zone (SEZ) law and regulations as critical components of the Logistics Hub Initiative, which will provide the legislative framework to attract manufacturing companies and technology firms to engage in value-added activities on goods trans-shipped through Jamaica. The Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA) is the organisation established to regulate and facilitate the development of SEZs in Jamaica. The authority is currently working to oversee the enactment of the new regulations.
JSEZA TO FACILITATE TRANSITION
The Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority, which is housed in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, will be facilitating the transition from free zones to the special economic zone regime. JSEZA will regulate and supervise SEZs, while providing a policy direction for the development and sustainability of Jamaica’s economy through the administration of SEZs. Further, the authority is mandated to attract new and diverse investments in SEZs, while simultaneously providing a policy direction for the development and sustainability of Jamaica’s economy. The operations of the authority will seek to grow the Jamaican economy by increasing its production capacity through job creation.
The SEZ legislation, which was enacted August 1, 2016, and resulted in the repeal of the Jamaica Export Free Zone Act, will move Jamaica into a new age of trade and development. An integrated approach has been taken in order to ensure that the environment is conducive to the growth of both goods-producing and service industries. Importantly, the Customs Act is also being revised to make it more supportive of the development of logistics operations linked to the trans-shipment addition of value to goods through the island’s special economic zones, seaports and airports.
… Development a must for boosting economic growth
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has declared the development of the logistics sector key to achieving targets such as making Kingston “the leading trans-shipment terminal in the region in 2018”, and, ultimately, boosting economic growth and job creation.
The latter push is of critical importance to arriving at the five per cent GDP growth promised by the end of the financial year 2020-2021.
“Jamaica has to use all of its advantages in the pursuit of sustainable economic growth and development,” Holness told lawmakers.
Two major milestones in the roadmap to support the development of Jamaica as a logistics hub are currently being funded by the Foundations for Competitiveness and Growth (FCG) Project which is a loan programme from the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (the World Bank). In the first instance, US consultancy firm Nathan Associates Inc is due to present, by July 2017, an industry analysis and master plan that is expected to guide the development plan for the Logistics Hub Initiative. Second, the feasibility study for the large-scale Caymanas Special Economic Zone is currently underway.
The Government is encouraged by the efforts of private-sector investors to take up the challenge to further develop logistics operations on numerous strategically located parcels of land for the construction of warehousing and to facilitate manufacturing, assembly, business process outsourcing, and other value-added activities.