Hub will diversify industries, make Jamaica more globally competitive
Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter
As several interest groups continue to label the plans to make Jamaica a world renowned logistics hub as nothing but a pipe dream, technocrats in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce have sought to defend the Government's plan to forge ahead with its logistics hub plans.
Dr Eric Deans, head of the logistics hub task force in the ministry, said the hub has to happen as it will give Jamaica a chance to diversify its industries and become more globally competitive.
"The essence of it (the logistics hub) is to attract companies into Jamaica, to base aspects of their production here so that they can serve this wider market and in order to do that you have to create the business environment that makes it conducive for these companies to operate," Deans said at a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum.
He added that the human capital and resources, which will allow international companies to effectively carry out their productions, would also have to be developed.
Deans explained that all these necessary attributes are currently being concretised as part of the plans to make Jamaica the fourth node in the global logistics chain.
He said the logistics hub would open Jamaica to several different industries outside of the agriculture and tourism sectors, with more focus being placed on "high-tech and new industries".
"There are these large corporations who we are attracting to base their operations in Jamaica which we will cluster with the range of suppliers that they need in the completion of their processes," Deans said, adding that they have already been approached by several companies wanting to start operating in the proposed special economic zones.
He said micro, small and medium-size businesses will stand a chance to reap a wealth of benefits from having Jamaica as a globally competitive logistics hub.
Deans argued that the country's strategic location should be capitalised on and allow businesses to access much larger markets outside of Jamaica.
"It involves us getting involved in a whole range of industries a part from what we've traditionally been used to," he added.
The Government has proposed that some 16 special economic zones would be created to give international companies a chance to bring their businesses into the country under certain terms and regulations.
Reginald Nugent, senior adviser to the Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton, said these economic zones are the centrepiece of plans to make Jamaica a global logistics hub.
He said steps are being taken to ensure that local companies benefit from these zones.
"We have recognised that there are critical elements that have to be in place to ensure that once we have the foreign investment from the global enterprises there is now the capacity for local domestic firms to participate in that process," Nugent said.
Speaking at the same forum, Hylton added that entities in Jamaica have already recognised the benefits to be derived from making the country a competitive logistics hub and are making the necessary steps to reap the benefits when the hub becomes fully operational.
"A number of our sectors are beginning to understand ... that they will benefit from it (logistics hub) because it will provide a platform for them to the world, allowing their production to be much more competitive and have greater market access," Hylton argued.