Tue | Feb 18, 2020

Long road to logistics fourth node for Jamaica

Published:Thursday | February 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM
In this January 25, 2014 photo, a fishing boat rests on a sandy beach of uninhabited Little Goat Island, Jamaica. A trans-shipment port is to be developed by state-run China Harbour Engineering Co on the uninhabited Goat Islands in a swathe of the island's biggest protected area. AP

As Jamaica pushes to become the fourth node among global logistics hubs, it has considerable distance to cover before it can be ranked anywhere near logistics leader Singapore.

Jamaica's logistics capabilities are currently ranked close to the bottom of a list of 155 countries, according to a recent World Bank report.

The 2012 Logistics Performance Index (LPI) puts Jamaica at 124 between Fiji and Algeria on a list which puts Singapore first and landlocked Burundi last.

Jamaica's logistics capabilities rank below several land-locked countries, such as Zimbabwe, Bolivia, Paraguay.

Its ranking is better than at least three countries in the region, including Guyana (133), Cuba (144) and Haiti (153).

Due to rounding, Jamaica appears to have the same score as Fiji at 2.42, though placed one spot behind in the rankings.

At the Jamaica Logistics Hub symposium in Kingston last month, World Bank representative in Jamaica, Giorgio Valentini, said that "Being on the bottom of the totem pole is not really an issue anymore," and that "it is very easy to move up the ranking."

The conference estimated that Jamaica may need investments of up to US$15 billion to realise its dream of being ranked alongside Singapore, Dubai and Rotterdam as centrepoints of world trade.

Some countries have improved their scores relatively quickly. That was the case for Morocco. Its LPI rank jumped from 113 in 2007 to 50 in 2012, "having implemented a comprehensive strategy to improve logistics and connectivity and take advantage of the country's proximity to Europe", according to the report.

Despite that, the report says "Logistics performance does not improve overnight."

Like Morocco, several other countries, such as Malaysia (29) and Panama (61), are trying to position themselves as major logistics hubs.

The LPI report also speaks to the rising importance of green solutions - which could have implications for the proposed development of the Goat Islands and the larger Portland Bight area.

The Goat Islands is proposed for development into a port facility by China.

"Environmental sustainability concerns are emerging as a market driver," the report states. "Developing countries will need to consider the environmental footprint of logistics, especially in trading with developed countries."

Jamaica's logistics ranking has fluctuated quite widely over time between its highest ranking of 94 and its lowest of 140.