Jamaica's ability to provide container cleaning, testing and repair services in the shipping industry has been boosted, with the launch of the island's first global ISO-Tank Specialist Depot and Maintenance Facility – ISOCON-JLB International.
The facility, located at Newport West in the Kingston Freezone, will give access to all ISO-Tank Container operators in the food grade markets throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America to strategically position equipment for cleaning, repairs, testing, certification and storage, thereby reducing the cost of freight transport to reach their markets.
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Speaking at the official launching ceremony, at the company's Newport West location on September 14, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, lauded the conceptualisers for their vision and their investment in the country.
He said ISOCON-JLB chose Jamaica for three critical business reasons: its strategic location as a transhipment hub; its Freezone Operations, and ease of access to the highly modernised Port of Kingston; and the island's primary rum export market.
“In making this investment in Jamaica, ISOCON-JLB is filling a need in the global food supply chain, and has laid a foundation for rapid business expansion. The presence of this entity in Jamaica will attract ISO-Tank Container operators in the food grade markets throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America,” he said.
Furthermore, he said the start-up of ISOCON-JLB in Jamaica “is music to the ears of our rum distillers and producers,” as they are a major part of the supply chain out of the Caribbean that supplies 85 per cent of the rum exports to the world.
"ISOCON-JLB will bring added operational efficiencies to our thriving rum and spirits export business, especially as it relates to quicker access to market,” the Minister argued.
Mr. Hylton noted that the start-up of ISOCON-JLB’s operations in Jamaica is a "tangible manifestation" of the types and quality of investments that will flow into Jamaica and make the dream of the island becoming a logistics hub of the Americas a reality.
"This investment in Jamaica is about how smart, sharp entrepreneurs with an eye for opportunity, made the logical choice to pick the most sensible and strategic location in the Caribbean and the Western Hemisphere to set up their highly specialised business," he said.
He pointed out that the investment, with start-up capital expenditure in excess of $50 million, and employing initially, some five to seven skilled Jamaicans, will bring a catalytic value-added service to Jamaica’s maritime industry.
"It will save money, create jobs and will spawn new possibilities. It is a small step, in what will be a giant leap by Jamaica to fulfill its ambition to become the Logistics Hub of the Americas," he added.
For his part, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, said investment opportunities such as these will lead to job creation, export and economic developments.
He noted that this investment will assist in building several of the country's industries, such as the juice industry and will help to save foreign. “It will encourage people to go more into the area of production of these fruits, so jobs again will be created,” the Minister said.
The location of this centralised international container cleaning facility in Jamaica is a major boom for the sugar and rum sectors, which require the cleaning, repair and certification of their tanks to international standards. At present, all tanks requiring cleaning, repair or certification are sent to Houston, Texas.
ISOCON-JLB International is a joint venture partnership between Scottish engineering firm ISOCON and JLB International, a Jamaican-owned international logistics, shipping and freight forwarding entity.