Wed | Jul 18, 2018

Special Economic Zone Authority to boost investments and jobs

Published:Saturday | July 14, 2018 | 12:00 AM
From left: Mike Henry, former minister of transport and works; Kamina Johnson-Smith, minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade; Metry Seaga, chairman of the Special Economic Zone Authority; Prime Minister Andrew Holness; Fayval Williams, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service; and Asif Ahmad, British High Commissioner to Jamaica, are viewing a three dimensional model of Jamaica’s logistics hub at the official opening of the Special Economic Zone Authority offices on Waterloo Road in St Andrew on Wednesday.

Chairman of the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA), Metry Seaga, says the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) landscape, when fully mature, will boast "many billions in investments" and hundreds of thousands of jobs in a range of sectors, including manufacturing, logistics, and business process outsourcing (BPO).

In just under two years since its establishment, Seaga said that the JSEZA already had on the ground more than US$500 million in investments and more than 5,000 jobs in SEZs.

"We have seen significant growth in the BPO industry segment ... and the time is right to start realising significant growth in other areas as well," he said.

He was speaking at the official opening of the authority at Waterloo Road, St Andrew, on Wednesday.

Seaga said that investors from across the globe were establishing businesses locally, noting that interests from countries with which Jamaica has had no previous relations "are now knocking at our doors".

He said that local investors "are jumping at the opportunity to play their part in the investment landscape".

"Our talented people, near shore location, robust telecommunications network, track record and our commitment to keeping our laws, regulations and incentive framework as modern and investor-friendly as possible, make Jamaica the ideal location for investment," he pointed out.

CONNECTING LOCAL SUPPLIERS

Seaga said that there was a push to connect local suppliers, including small businesses, with SEZ investors.

"As we know, investments can have a tremendous ripple effect, but we have to create the space for it to work," he said.

Seaga informed that a "clear plan" has been developed to ensure the success of the SEZs, which outlines the activities to be undertaken and how these will be carried out.

He said that the plan "must be integrated into our larger economic development strategy".

Additionally, Seaga indicated that work was ongoing to establish a sound and legal regulatory framework, while assuring that "we are working with you, our stakeholders, to address any gaps that exist in the legislation".

Seaga noted the support from Prime Minister Andrew Holness for the authority and its work, which "bodes well for us".

"We aim to develop a joined-up approach to this segment of government business [and] call on all agency heads, permanent secretaries and ministers to put their weight behind a cause that is for our country, Jamaica," he urged.

The SEZs, which will replace the free zone regime, are pivotal elements of the Government's Global Logistics Hub Initiative (GLHI). They are geographically defined areas that offer simple and efficient business regulations and procedures to investors.

The GLHI aims to position Jamaica as the fourth node in the global supply chain, along with facilities in Singapore; Rotterdam, Netherlands; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.