JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Jamaica has been chosen to host the World Free Zones Organization (WFZO) Annual International Conference and Exhibition in 2021, following a successful bidding process by the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA).
  • The event will be held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James.
  • A team, led by Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Eric Deans, presented Jamaica’s proposal at the 2019 conference in Barcelona, Spain, in June.

Jamaica has been chosen to host the World Free Zones Organization (WFZO) Annual International Conference and Exhibition in 2021, following a successful bidding process by the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA).

The event will be held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James.

A team, led by Chairman of the JSEZA, Metry Seaga, presented Jamaica’s proposal at the 2019 conference in Barcelona, Spain, in June.

Speaking with JIS News, CEO of JSEZA, Dr. Eric Deans said that the team put together “a very detailed proposal document. including videos, which described the facilities that we have available to host the conference, such as the convention centre, hotels, accommodation for the guests, logistics support, and all other activities that go into hosting a large-scale conference like this”.

“So we put together this comprehensive document and submitted it a month before, so that they could review it prior to us making the presentation,” he said.

Dr. Deans, in highlighting the significance of Jamaica winning the bid, said that “for us in the free zone and special economic zone sphere, this is like winning the bid to host the Olympics”.

“Free zones and special economic zones account for over 30 per cent of world trade, so winning the bid to host this event is a very substantial and significant achievement for such a small country as Jamaica,” he added.

He noted that the JSEZA’s presentation received very high commendation from WFZO chairman, Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, who expressed that the bid was the “best prepared, packaged proposal they have received in the history of the organization”.

Dr. Deans told JIS News that over the next two years, the JSEZA will be working closely with the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), the Montego Bay Convention Centre and relevant ministries and agencies to plan and organise the conference.

“So, we will be coordinating the activities with the various hotels, the various ground transportation providers, the logistics companies that will be needed to move the various exhibits from all over the world to Jamaica and get them set up,” he said.

He noted, too, that the local team will collaborate with the board and management of the WFZO to promote the conference across the globe, raise awareness and increase participation in the event.

The CEO said that by hosting the conference, the JSEZA intends to attract a large cross section of international, regional and local participation.

“We intend to secure from these interactions, more foreign direct investment for the logistics hub initiative and for our special economic zones right across the country. We also intend to build a strong business network for future collaborations and entice more of the regional free zones to join the WFZO,” he said.

Youth and student participation will be encouraged in order to expose them to what is happening in the special economic zone and logistics sphere globally.

“So we will make a particular effort to involve and encourage mechanisms to ensure that persons studying at universities, community colleges, HEART Trust get an opportunity to participate in the conference and exhibition,” Dr. Deans added.

The WFZO involves membership from some 120 countries, with about 5,400 special economic zones and free zones across the globe.

The annual conference and exhibition is held over five days and consists of a Board of Directors meeting, general assembly with all the members, Free Zone Outlook International Conference, workshops, training and exhibition.

The JSEZA is a voting member of the WFZO. The Authority continues its work to develop the Special Economic Zone Regime to enhance Jamaica’s image in the global logistics and supply value chain.