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Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon.  Anthony Hylton, says expectations for the development of Jamaica’s global logistics and transshipment hub are high among stakeholders in the business and trading community worldwide.

Speaking at the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce’s (JCC) Breakfast Forum at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, on December 18, Mr. Hylton said this resonated among stakeholders in Europe, Asia and Panama, with whom he and members of the Ministry have been meeting, in recent weeks, to discuss the matter.

Development of the hub, which is estimated to cost between US$8 billion and US$10 billion, is being spearheaded by the Government in an effort to position Jamaica to take advantage of the anticipated increased maritime activities, expected to result from the expansion of the Panama Canal by 2015.

Central to the development are: dredging of the Kingston Harbour; expansion of the Port of Kingston; development of the Caymanas Economic Zone, a transshipment commodity port, and Vernamfield in Clarendon as an air-cargo and passenger facility; and establishment of a dry dock facility.

Development of the hub would make it the fourth such facility globally, along with those in Singapore; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Rotterdam, Netherlands. Jamaica is deemed ideally positioned for the establishment of the hub, based on its location, midway between North and South America, and in relative proximity to the Panama canal

Mr. Hylton said the feedback suggests that the stakeholders deem the hub to be “critically needed” to ensure that trade “moves efficiently and effectively as it can” across the region. He further pointed out that with the recognition of this opportunity that Jamaica has, the stakeholders are “looking to us to step up and to deliver.”

“This project is of a global scale. The standards we are setting are along the lines of those in Singapore, Dubai, and Rotterdam. That is a tall order, but that’s the scope of opportunity that we have (to take advantage of); therefore, the scale of that opportunity must be matched by our efforts. It requires significant up-scaling in almost every aspect of how we do business,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Hylton informed that the Ministry will be collaborating with the JCC to stage a series of consultations and public education activities with local stakeholders, to further enlighten them on the opportunities for investment in the hub’s development.  

These consultations are expected to complement similar efforts undertaken overseas, which have yielded expressions of interest by a number of foreign investors, in participating in the project.    

“We will be utilizing the Chamber’s network throughout the country, beginning in January in Montego Bay. Thereafter, we will identify a list of chambers in the various parishes that we will be utilizing to speak to this very critical issue for Jamaica’s growth and development,” Mr. Hylton said.