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Jamaica can learn from Canada’s logistics experience

Published:Wednesday | January 22, 2014 | 3:19 PM

Richard Browne, Business Reporter

Jamaica can explore characteristics surrounding the recent development of a logistics hub in eastern Canada as a guide to creating its own, Marianne Etter, director of policy and co-ordination for Canada’s Atlantic Gateway Secretariat told participants at a symposium in Kingston earlier today.

She was speaking on the topic, “The Canada Atlantic Gateway – Connections with the Jamaica Logistics Hub” on the second day of the Jamaica logistics hub symposium at the Jamaica conference Centre, downtown Kingston.

The development of the Atlantic gateway in 2009 in Canada was a partnership between various parts of the federal and provincial governments and stakeholders such as airports, seaports, railroads, customers, transportation companies, system providers and more.

The strategy was released in March 2011 and is defined by nine core elements to help facilitate growth in international trade.

Among other things, Etter said that expanding the runways at two airports was seen as a critical piece of establishing Canada’s logistics hub.

Another key activity was international trade promotion and marketing which started at the outset of planning for the hub, she said. Can$5 million was spent on taking partners to international conferences, creating marketing materials, undertaking research and outreach, she added.

“It made us look like a player,” Etter said.

There was also an effort to mitigate government policy and regulatory issues that could negatively impact the efficiency of the transportation system or impede growth and one aspect of that was to harmonise the different regulations between provinces.

Etter said the port of Halifax is the largest and most successful port in the logistics area. It had container growth of 7.5 per cent in 2013, has 18 of the world’s top container lines calling there on a regular basis, and has direct connection to 150 countries.

While Jamaica contemplates getting ready for the expansion of the Panama Canal, Halifax is now ready to accept the larger ships that will come through that route, Etter said.

Communication is also vital. “You can’t do enough of it,” she said.