Industry ministry had pledged modern regime
In its 2015 Policy for the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), the Ministry of Industry Investment and Commerce, said the implementation of the Global Logistics Hub Initiative, has made the upgrading of the Free Zone regime, to a modern SEZ regime of utmost importance.
According to the document, through the SEZs, the government would be demonstrating its commitment to building a competitive business environment and supporting growth-inducing economic activities, that would stimulate sustainable economic growth and development.
"SEZs represent a wide variety of geographically-demarcated areas that offer simple and efficient business regulations and procedures to investors. Under the new SEZ regime, these zones will be promoted and facilitated as a strategy to attract and retain targeted investments and will catalyse and sustain economic activity across various sectors of the Jamaican economy," it said.
"The move toward a modern SEZ regime is being driven by changes in global production and market conditions that are opening up new opportunities for small developing economies like Jamaica to actively participate in global value and supply chains. The Ministry, through its efforts to develop the new SEZ regime is seeking to place the country at the centre of international trade lanes in order to attract large corporations that are eager to benefit from the near shore value proposition," the document noted.
It added: "This initiative has gained much momentum and investor interest in recent time. This is due to the enormous value proposition the country offers the global economy in light of the prospects arising from changes in international production, growing world trade and the expansion of the Panama Canal".
The document said the SEZ regime has enormous potential to stimulate wide-scale economic activities, especially in new and emerging sectors, that would, over time, transform the Jamaican economy to one with greater emphasis on efficiency, transparency and predictability.
"As a result of these reforms, both businesses in SEZs and businesses in the rest of the economy will be better prepared and equipped to access a larger share of the global market, expand and diversify their economic activities and hire more workers. These are all critical factors and conditions that must be satisfied in order to drive sustained growth and development in Jamaica," it said.
"The intention to develop a new SEZ regime ensures conformance under the World Trade Organization's (WTO) rules for middle-income countries such as Jamaica. The existing free zone regime stipulates rigid eligibility requirements in terms of qualifying activities and the amount of manufactured goods that have to be exported," it said.