Wed | Dec 13, 2017

Growth & Jobs | Logistics Hub will bring significant growth – JMA

Published:Tuesday | June 27, 2017 | 12:00 AMLynford Simpson
Metry Seaga

"If marketed correctly, the logistics hub (initiative) and the Special Economic Zone Authority will lead to great and significant growth in the manufacturing sector."

That's according to the Chairman of the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA), and President of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association, (JMA), Metry Seaga.

Speaking with The Gleaner in his capacity as JMA president, Seaga reasoned that if the right approach is taken to marketing the initiative, it will bring new players who will be viewing the region and the world as their market.

"As such, we will be on a much larger scale than the current facilities that exist, employing more people and creating a larger economy, Seaga said. He was responding to questions from The Gleaner about the kind of boost the local manufacturing sector was anticipating from the global logistics hub initiative. Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said the initiative will become reality during his administration's term in office.

According to Seaga, the work undertaken by the People's National Party when it formed the Government was the critical framework that was necessary to get the programme under way. He pointed to work done in such areas as legislation and regulation, and studies that were undertaken to determine the feasibility of the programme. Such work he said needed to be done "to ensure that we had a good base on which to build a solid industry. With that said we are now on track to start to make things happen. People will, in short order, start to see, touch and feel the (work of the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority) in a real and meaningful way," said the JMA president.

When asked about the manufacturing opportunities that exist in the short-term, Seaga said these were limited to light manufacturing, assembly, repackaging "and things of that nature".

"None to really speak about," he said when asked whether there were any concerns regarding the quality of the workforce that will be needed for Jamaica to be acknowledged as a global logistics hub, employing the right skills set. He said training regimes were being put in place and revealed that the JMA was working closely with the HEART Trust/NTA and other training agencies. This, with a view to "ensuring a well trained, committed workforce to fulfill the needs that we expect to become a reality."

... But Ja must decapitate crime

Regarding any other concern he had, that may jeopardise the initiative, Metry Seaga said crime was a monster that must be decapitated. "We must do all that we can within the law to ensure that we break this vicious cycle. We also feel that the upturn in the economy will go a far way to take many of the idle hands and minds off of the street and into the productive sector," the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association head added.

In his budget presentation last month, Prime Minister Andrew Holness listed several priorities as it relates to the logistics hub. He told the House of Representatives that beyond the trans-shipment of cargo, the Government intends to develop Jamaica as a logistics hub, with facilities for the warehousing, consolidation, repackaging and re-exporting of the cargo brought to the country in containers or in bulk form.

The prime minister spoke to the location of assembly and light manufacturing for transnational companies and their suppliers, transporting goods along the major trade corridors within the western hemisphere. The expectation is that these so-called light manufacturing and assembly operations will be developed within special economic zones that will be established in different parts of the island, creating significant employment opportunities.