President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Diane Edwards, is wooing overseas investment in Jamaica’s logistic services, noting that the country’s location, within reach of 800 million customers, makes it ideal to offer cutting-edge services to the global market.
Speaking at a logistics investment opportunities webinar on Tuesday (June 16), Ms. Edwards said that the island’s strategic geographic location, modern physical infrastructure, business-friendly environment, supporting legislation, among other attributes, gives it a competitive advantage in the supply chain business.
“What makes Jamaica also strong in the logistics area is the fact that we have strong and stable communication links with the world,” she added.
Noting that the industry’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) is approximately US$728 million, she pointed out that the sector handles 29.5 million tonnes of cargo from 3,561 vessels that visit the island’s seaports each year.
Ms. Edwards told the webinar participants that Jamaica boasts one of the most modern ports in the region, which is able to handle Post Panamax vessels that traverse the Panama Canal following its most recent expansion.
“We are perfectly located in terms of the Western Hemisphere and along shipping line lanes from China into the eastern seaport of the United States. In terms of your reach, by locating in Jamaica, you are able to reach 800 million consumers within a radius of a few hours’ flight from Jamaica and a few days’ shipping,” she pointed.
She noted too that the Government continues to put the necessary infrastructure in place to support the logistics industry and improve ease of doing business, such as the ASYCUDA – a port computer system, which allows paperless trading and provides real-time data on imports and exports.
“We are working on a business environment reform agenda, which means that we will be able to do more business online, and Jamaica will be able to become top-10 in the Doing Business Report internationally. This means that doing business in Jamaica is going to be easier. We are actually number six in the world in starting a business… so your business starting in Jamaica is on an easy, seamless footing,” she added.
Ms. Edwards further cited legislative measures such as the Special Economic Zone Authority Act, which repealed the Jamaica Export Free Zones Act, making way for the designation, promotion, development, operation and management of Special Economic Zones. The new law she said, has provided the enabling environment for the continued development of the logistics sector.
Special Economic Zones represent a wide variety of geographically demarcated areas that offer special economic regulations that differ from general trade, tax and investment rules.
“So Jamaica will really become a ring of special economic zones which will all be connected by a strong road network and strong telecommunications and broadband links,” she added.
Further highlighting Jamaica’s positive attributes, Ms. Edwards said the country offers a highly skilled workforce, e-logistics, competitive cost and fiscal benefits as well as a wide range of products with lower tax rates.
In terms of availability of space, she noted that the Kingston Logistics Park offers 18,000 square metres of port warehouse.
“There are 40 hectares of land available for development of logistics facilities… . There’s multimodal connectivity because our port is situated directly across the harbour from our airports so the connectivity is very key and the access to the hinterland of Jamaica by road has actually developed,” Ms. Edwards told the potential investors.
“Another opportunity is a modular warehousing complex, which is run by Kingston Wharves on 13.8 acres, and this really allows you the opportunity to set up a warehouse to do dry storage and to do trans-shipment through the port,” she added.
Trade and Investment Promotions Specialist at JAMPRO, Laurence Jones, for his part, said the country’s logistic sector continues to support the global supply chain during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which, he pointed, out has been an extremely disruptive period.
“The Government of Jamaica and the logistic sector have ensured that Jamaica remains a reliable node in the global supply chain.
Jamaica can bring flexibility and reliability to your global supply chains. Not only do we offer an international trans-shipment hub but also skill centres of excellence, e-logistics and competitive cost but also a wide range of products with zero tariffs and stable financial regime,” he shared.
He said Jamaica can assist supply chains to be more resilient.
“Companies in Europe have been hit with supply chain shocks as the flow of materials from China was disrupted by the pandemic.
“Chief Executive Officers (CEO) are confidently asking their supply chain teams to develop additional sources that are completely independent of China. Here at JAMPRO, the Government of Jamaica trade and investment agency, we want to help you to access the offerings in Jamaica,” Mr. Jones said.