- It is one of the segments under the much anticipated Jamaica Global Logistics Hub initiative.
- The Task Force Chairman said global companies are being invited to set up shop in the zones and they, in turn, will require services that will create employment for Jamaicans.
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The Caymanas Economic Zone, proposed to be one of the segments under the much anticipated Jamaica Global Logistics Hub initiative, is slated to be one of 16 across the island.
Chairman of the Logistics Hub Task Force, Dr. Eric Deans, made the disclosure while addressing a Jamaica Information Service (JIS), Think Tank session on January 9 in Kingston.
Dr. Deans said the zone will be developed in two phases, 200 acres in phase one and 1,500 acres in Phase 2. He explained that the economic zones will replace free zones, the concept of which has to be retired under a new World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling.
Explaining the logistics of transshipment, Dr. Deans noted that it largely involves offloading cargo from large ships, separating and reloading it onto smaller vessels, to be transported into smaller ports. In the new dispensation, cargo will now leave the port after going through some process of adding value, for example, assembling electronic components. This, he said, is likely to see more economic benefit filtering into the economy.
The Task Force Chairman said global companies are being invited to set up shop in the zones and they, in turn, will require services that will create employment for Jamaicans.
This view is shared by Executive Director of the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI), Dr. Fitz Pinnock, who said that by attracting global industries to set up in the economic zones, there will be a multiplier effect on the economy.
“It will be a driver for economic growth and ultimately create employment which is a crime reduction strategy. Crime is a by-product of unemployment and the best way to fight crime is to grow the economy,” Dr. Pinnock asserted.
Jamaica is seeking to become the fourth node in the global supply chain acting as the main logistics hub serving North and South America. The other existing nodes are Singapore, a tiny nation in Asia which used its strategic location to establish itself as the first node serving the Far East; Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which serves the Middle East; and Rotterdam, Holland, which boasts the largest commodity port in the world serving Europe.
Dr. Deans pointed out that a large percentage of goods are manufactured in the Asia/Pacific region but are marketed in North and South America and in Europe.
“China is the production house of the world and the majority of the goods are consumed by the Western world. What we offer is a shorter distance to market. Stockpiling goods in Jamaica will mean that it will take a day or two to be delivered as opposed to weeks when ordered directly from China,” he said.
He stressed that Jamaica must move quickly to remain in contention for the economic opportunities that are being created daily, “as the nature of the shipping industry changes and the need for logistics replaces the need for transshipment worldwide.”
Dr. Deans is therefore urging Jamaicans to buy into the Logistics Hub concept and to see themselves “within the context of the multi-faceted supply chain.”
He pointed out that Jamaica faces competition from Cuba and the Dominican Republic, which are both moving ahead with development plans in anticipation of the expansion of the Panama Canal. Cuba, he informed, is spending US$900 million on developing a massive port and specialized commercial zone at Mariel, while the Dominican Republic is expanding its 10 year old port facility at Caucedo, to double its capacity by 2015.
Jamaica’s Global Logistics Hub is expected to respond to the world’s demands for value added logistics. “To facilitate logistics you need airports, seaports and digital connections. It is a concentration of entities engaged in global commerce using our transportation infrastructure. The port that is to be built is one component of the hub. The international airports, the Port of Kingston and the Caymanas Economic Zone are all components,” Dr. Deans explained.