State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Folkes Abrahams, says there will be limitless opportunities for Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) when the Government’s Global Logistics Hub is developed.
“Among the many advantages of the development of a logistics hub are job creation and small business development. In most cases, the bulk of the transportation and logistics centre is actually made up of small and micro enterprises,” Mrs. Folkes Abrahams said.
She was addressing the 17th Anniversary function of the Kiwanis Club of Central Portmore held on Wednesday, April 24, at the McMaster Centre.
The Government’s Global Logistics Hub Initiative is aimed at taking advantage of the anticipated increase in maritime activities from the expansion of the Panama Canal, scheduled to be completed in 2015.
Jamaica is deemed ideally positioned for this undertaking, based on the country’s location, midway between North and South America, and in relatively close proximity to the Panama Canal.
The State Minister asserted that the hub will transform businesses in a number of ways, including improving the environment with less bureaucracy and more efficient government processes.
She further noted that there will be more businesses to supply goods and services and existing ones will be able to expand. In addition, there will be increased export facilitation with more effective and efficient/transport links; and greater opportunities for access and presence in overseas markets.
“With the development of the logistics hub, the many opportunities for MSMEs will be almost inexhaustible,” she noted.
These include areas such as: aerospace and aviation: maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) for airplanes; biotech and pharmaceutical; fashion and apparel; Information and Communications Technology(ICT); chemicals and petrochemicals; entertainment and media; marine and offshore – dry docking: ship and oil rig repair; food, beverage and hospitality; and logistics and shipping.
In terms of job creation, the Minister pointed out that there will be opportunities in areas such as: warehousing and warehouse management; security; drivers/trucking services; customer support; supply/value chain management services; ICT support, including programmers; human resources supply (job placement agency) and management; assembly of consumer goods, for example, electronics; intellectual property monitoring and management services; engineering; and food preparation and food processing.
Mrs. Folkes Abrahams noted that in Singapore, for example, where one of the current three global hubs is located, the logistics and transportation sector contributes about eight per cent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs more than 200,000 workers.
“We must now prepare ourselves for the opportunities to come. We must now prepare ourselves with the necessary training and the acquisition of the necessary business skills, knowledge and technologies that will allow us to be more competitive. The Jamaica Global Logistics Hub, I assure you, is not a dream – it is a reality,” she asserted.
The key elements of the initiative are: development of the Caymanas Economic Zone; dredging of the Kingston Harbour; expanding the port facility at Fort Augusta and Gordon Cay; establishing a Dry Dock facility at Jackson Bay, Clarendon; establishing a trans-shipment commodity port facility near Yallahs, St. Thomas; and developing an air cargo and passenger facility at Vernamfield, in Clarendon.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter