Logistics Hub a Major Investment Thrust

Photo: Michael Sloley Chairman of the Logistics Hub Initiative (LHI), Dr. Eric Deans.

Story Highlights

  • Jamaica’s gradual transition to a ‘logistics centred’ economy has prompted the need for integration of various sectors, public-private partnerships and ongoing research and discussions by key stakeholders.
  • The Logistics Hub Initiative (LHI) includes plans to further develop national infrastructure assets, such as ports, airports, roads, utilities, and special economic zones, and attract private-sector investment in logistics, transportation, and other value-added sectors.
  • The Government is preparing a competent workforce for the jobs that will emerge.

Jamaica’s gradual transition to a ‘logistics centred’ economy has prompted the need for integration of various sectors, public-private partnerships and ongoing research and discussions by key stakeholders.

The prospect of Jamaica becoming a globally competitive logistics hub stems from its strategic geographic location along the major shipping lanes combined with its connectivity to global markets and proximity to North America.

The Logistics Hub Initiative (LHI) includes plans to further develop national infrastructure assets, such as ports, airports, roads, utilities, and special economic zones, and attract private-sector investment in logistics, transportation, and other value-added sectors.

Chairman of the Logistics Hub Initiative, Dr. Eric Deans tells JIS News that the LHI is a major thrust of the Government to attract investment to Jamaica, primarily companies engaged in global supply chains, to serve a regional market.

It includes the development of national infrastructure assets, such as ports, airports, roads, utilities, and special economic zones (SEZ), and attracting private-sector investment in logistics, transportation, and other value-added sectors.

“It is more than just a location, it is more than just one infrastructure component, but involves several key pillars such as infrastructure, business environment, technology and human capital,” he says.

“We are moving away from the traditional trans-shipment model where goods just come into the port and then stay a short time then (are) shipped out, as we do not get much value from that as a country,” he further points out.

He explains that with the LHI, there will be value-added industries operating within the economic zone and providing opportunities for business people to provide services.

Dr. Deans says that in order to attract international investors, a conducive business environment must be created for those entities,

That means that all the activities associated with their conducting business, whether it be the work permit associated with their workforce, their training needs, (or) accommodations for their children,” Dr. Deans highlights.

He adds that this move, therefore, involves a collaborative approach by several entities, including Companies Office of Jamaica, Jamaica Customs Agency, Ministry of Labour and Social Security, and all other entities to deal with business facilitation matters.

“We are positioning ourselves to be at the forefront of this fourth industrial revolution and this is what will separate us from our regional competitors.  To realise this, the human capital is essential, so the skills that are necessary to support the logistics hub are not just in transportation or warehousing but in all the various technologically advanced areas that will support the initiative… . Having all of these components is what will make the logistics hub work,” Dr. Deans outlines.

A most recent initiative which sparked discussion from key stakeholders about the LHI was the staging of a Logistics Symposium in July.

The event explored the country’s readiness to respond to the changes in the global landscape, especially with the completion of the Panama Canal expansion project.

It attracted some 200 persons from the public and private sectors, including thinkers, implementers, business strategists, companies and individuals who may wish to capitalise on the future growth of the global logistics industry.

Meanwhile, the Government, through the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), has engaged the services of United States-based economic consultant Nathan Associates, to conduct an industry analysis and develop a master plan for the LHI.

The 14-month study will be executed by sub-consultants Berger ABAM.

Dr. Deans explains that the industry analysis and master plan will provide the developmental road map to establish Jamaica as a global logistics hub.

He says Nathan Associates’ market analysis will provide the rationalisation and prioritisation for investment in the industries that will best develop the hub.

The Government is preparing a competent workforce for the jobs that will emerge.

Executive Director for the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI), and member of the Logistics Hub Task Force with responsibility for training and education, Dr. Fritz Pinnock, informs that since September 2015, Logistics and Supply Chain Operations, and Commercial Shipping are two courses that have been introduced at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) level.

He informs that there are plans to introduce courses in logistics at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in St. James and Knox Community College in Manchester.

Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) intends to introduce a master’s degree in supply chain and logistics management by September 2017.

The CMI is already offering logistics-related degree and master’s programmes.

In addition, some 65,000 Jamaicans across the island have been engaged and sensitised on the LHI through ‘Logistics Hub 101’.

Logistics Hub 102, an advanced training programme, was also rolled out.    “This (training) is an important aspect of sensitising Jamaica to what logistics, supply chain management and global value chain are about,” Dr. Pinnock notes.

The Logistics Hub Initiative is geared towards achieving continued growth, fitting Jamaica into the global value chain and bringing significant investments to the country.

The Hub will allow Jamaica to capitalise on increased trade flows through the region, as a result of the expansion of the Panama Canal.

Jamaica’s Logistics Hub will consist of world-class seaports (handling containers, dry bulk and liquid bulk commodities), airports, SEZs, logistics parks, logistics centres, integrated intermodal transport capabilities, supporting infrastructure, telecommunications and trade facilitation mechanisms.

JIS Social