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Story Highlights

  • The country must adapt to the fast pace of global trade, in a manner that will bring the greatest level of prosperity.
  • Tariffs are almost a trading measure of the past.
  • Investment drivers vary according to industry, a proper understanding of industry supply chains is critical in designing public policy.

Former Executive Director, International Trade Centre, Patricia Francis, says opportunities to be presented by the Logistics Hub initiative are “real”,  so the country must adapt to the fast pace of global trade, in a manner that will bring the greatest level of prosperity.

“This can only happen if the public and private sectors, as well as civil society, act in tandem,” she suggested.

Ms. Francis was speaking at the opening session of the two-day Jamaica Chamber of Commerce/JAMPRO Jamaica logistics hub symposium, held at the Jamaica Conference Centre, in downtown Kingston, on January 21.

Turning to how the new World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement on trade facilitation will impact the policy environment, she noted that tariffs are almost a trading measure of the past.

The former Executive Director argued that the modern way of doing business involves: market access, efficient board administration, modern transport and telecommunications infrastructure, and competitive business environment.

“Those are the critical things that are actually going to add more to your cost than tariffs,” she added.

Ms. Francis pointed out that because investment drivers vary according to industry, a proper understanding of industry supply chains is critical in designing public policy.

“Governments must therefore address trade barriers in a structured and coherent manner. They need to understand their comparative advantage, decide where they want to go, and develop a strategic strategy to remove the relevant barriers that are in place,” she explained.

On the other hand, Ms. Francis said companies must learn to better assess supply chain risks, by taking into account all the possible associated costs.

Some of the topics discussed at the symposium included: integrating Jamaica into global value and supply chains; building out the physical infrastructure; scenarios for the future of the logistics industry; the Jamaica logistics hub and the Jamaican growth agenda; manpower planning; economic zone analysis; and the impact of the Panama Canal project on business networks and commerce.

The Jamaica Logistics Hub is a core plank in the Government’s economic growth strategy. It is aimed at driving investment and creating sustainable employment over the long term.

The country is being positioned to capitalize on its prime location for increased maritime and aviation traffic through the region, with the opening of the expanded Panama Canal in 2015.