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Private investments in logistics hub worth billions of dollars

Published:Monday | September 8, 2014 | 1:27 PMJIS


Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, says billions of dollars of private investments in infrastructure and other developments, would be involved in the Logistics Hub Initiative.

She pointed out that several leading global firms have already made bids on some of the planned projects, while others are already underway. Mrs. Ffolkes Abrahams was speaking at the official launch of National Employers' Month Celebrations, held at the Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF) headquarters, in Kingston, last Friday.

"We are also facilitating the participation of smaller firms in export value chains through collaboration with global enterprises in industry specific clusters. We are implementing business climate reforms and establishing a new special economic zone regime to attract large global enterprises to benefit from our more competitive positions in the global logistics chain," she said.

Mrs. Ffolkes Abrahams said the Ministry envisions that the special economic zones will contribute to growth, development and prosperity in the country.

At least 16 locations are to be designated special economic zones (SEZs) under the Government's logistics hub initiative. These include the Kingston Container Terminal, Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA), Vernamfield in Clarendon and the Goat Islands project.

"We see the special economic zones attracting and retaining high levels of investments. We see these zones facilitating knowledge and technology transfer, creating high quality employment and helping to stimulate sustainable economic growth," she said.

The State Minister noted that the Ministry is introducing policy measures to hasten the development of special economic zones in the short to medium term.

These measures, she said, will guide the passage of key pieces of legislation and help to create the institutional strengthening required for their timely establishment.

"Key action to achieve the logistics centred economy include firstly, a new special economic zone regime to further improve the prospects for Jamaica's airports and seaports and thereby trigger enhancement in the country's capacity to offer improved and increased logistics services," she said.

"Secondly, a new industrial policy that will result in standard-based developments that benefit from technology and knowledge transfer, and thirdly, a national export strategy that takes account of the importance of imports as key production inputs and allows us to tap into new markets," the State Minister added.

She also noted that critical are a financial services sector that will enhance logistics transactions; financially empowered globally integrated micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs); trade facilitation, including modifications to customs processes; a motivated workforce, armed with relevant skills that are internationally certified; and business development support for entrepreneurs and innovators.

The State Minister informed that later this month, the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) will roll out its 'mobile clinic', in a bid to assist entrepreneurs island wide.

"We will be going throughout Jamaica with a mobile clinic preparing persons to take advantage of the special economic zones and to prepare entrepreneurs to be ready for the opportunities that will attend the hub," she said.