Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, says the logistics hub initiative represents the path to transformation of the economy, and is not a “pipe dream”.
“This initiative will cut the ‘Gordian knot’ which has been choking the Jamaican economy and condemned us to three decades of anaemic growth,” he emphasized , as he made his contribution to the 2013/14 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, on Tuesday, May 14.
“Much work is left to be done, including the enactment of enabling legislation and the construction of supporting infrastructure. But, over the past year, we have generated significant global investor interest with missions to China, Singapore, Dubai, Panama and the Netherlands, where we have received enthusiastic support for the initiative. Similarly, we have received support from the multilateral agencies, including the World Bank and the Inter-American Development bank,” he stated.
The Minister pointed out that the logistics hub initiative will integrate manufacturers and distributors based in Jamaica in the global goods production and distribution chains.
“It therefore represents an opportunity to breathe new life into manufacturing in Jamaica,” he said.
Speaking to the frequently queried matter of funding, Mr. Hylton said the project potentially represents US$9 billion of foreign direct investments, with the prospect of generating tens of thousands of jobs in a variety of fields during the construction and operational phases.
“The same investors who developed the other three logistics hubs are now at the table with us seeking to carve out individual mega projects and to acquire and upgrade existing assets through public/private partnership arrangements,” he asserted.
Jamaica is expected to become the fourth node in the global logistics chain, joining Rotterdam, Singapore and Dubai.
Turning to how Jamaicans will be able to seize the opportunities presented by the logistics hub initiative, and the policy actions needed to ensure that Jamaica’s comparative advantage is converted into a competitive advantage for the economy, Mr. Hylton said the Ministry will designate Special Economic Zones under powers given to the Minister by the Free Zone Act.
“The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) will promote and market these zones locally and overseas, to the companies engaged in various logistics activities. These include, but are not limited to, assembly, warehousing, distribution and packaging. Further, the Ministry will reactivate the industrial apprenticeship programme, working together with HEART/NTA to train the workforce needed to operationalize and take advantage of the tens of thousands of jobs that will be created,” he explained.
Mr. Hylton noted that the Ministry is also working with tertiary institutions to develop curricula specific to the skills needed for successful implementation of the project.
Meanwhile, he said specific policy measures will be implemented to ensure that the Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprise (MSME) entrepreneurs are included in the economic zones, and become an integral part of the global value chain.
The project will also link the domestic economy to the global value chain, in areas where Jamaica does not have an advantage. An example of this is the automobile industry, where the country will now have the opportunity to assemble cars or distribute parts to global markets.
“That is the transformational aspect of the Logistics Hub,” the Minister pointed out.
Mr. Hylton spoke on the theme: ‘Achieving Transformational Growth’.
Contact: Alphea Saunders