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Motor vehicle assembly plant for Spanish Town ... 10,000 jobs projected

Published:Tuesday | October 27, 2015 | 1:30 PM

SOME US$350 million in investments, including the creation of a facility for the assembly of motor vehicles, is being earmarked for an economic zone, to be located in Spanish Town, St Catherine, within the next three years.

The investment is the result of a joint venture between Gulfray Americas and China National Automotive Industry International Corporation (CNAICO), a subsidiary of China National Machinery Industry Corporation, which is a large state-owned group and a Fortune Global 500 enterprise.

"What the Jamaican people are going to see is jobs. They are going to see high-level, good-paying jobs," Martin Scott, managing director of Gulfray Americas, told The Gleaner yesterday.

"It is anticipated that the zone will generate in excess of 10,000 jobs directly and indirectly, with 2,500 of those jobs being top-level jobs, within the period," Scott said.

Scott said that the Spanish Town Free zone would be built out over the next two to three years and that phase one of the two-phase project was well advanced. He said that petrochemicals were now being manufactured and that the infrastructure for the motor vehicle assembly plant was being put in place.

in testing phase

Masada Jamaica Limited, a designated free zone operator and administrator, will take over as a special-purpose vehicle, created by a consortium of local and international investors, with key players being Gulfray Americas and CNAICO, for the operation of the free zone.

"The full zone should be completed within the next two years. We are at phase one now. We are already up and operational with our partners from Dubai ... . We are already testing equipment," Scott said.

"We are putting up a manufacturing plant for trucks and buses and light trucks until we get into the manufacturing of automobiles."

The Spanish Town Enterprise Zone will see the refining and regeneration of petroleum products; the manufacturing of composites and insulating material and state-of-the-art injection moulding; car, bus, and truck assembly; auto parts remanufacturing and distribution; the manufacturing of pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products; and the manufacturing and distribution of personal-care products.

The free zone is located at 8 March Pen Road, St Catherine, and the operators will benefit from all incentives offered under the current free zone regime. Those benefits will be retained when a new special economic zone bill is passed by Parliament.

Industry Minister Anthony Hylton yesterday tabled a bill in the House of Representatives for the establishment of special economic zones. The bill is a critical component of the much-talked-about logistics hub.

Scott said yesterday that 300 Jamaicans would receive scholarships to study overseas to acquire highly sought-after skills required within the free zone.