Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce is advanced in its preparation of the Special Economic Zone Policy Framework. Today, I will lay before this Honourable House the White Paper on Special Economic Zones.
The Ministry developed a policy paper on the SEZ regimewhich was approved by Cabinet on January 5, 2015. The SEZ Policy Framework was then tabled in this Honourable House on January 13, 2015 as a Green Paper. Subsequently, work continued to transition the Green Paper to a White Paper.
This SEZ White Paper is, therefore, submitted against the backdrop of a very intense and inclusive consultation process. On July 6, 2015 Cabinet approved the tabling of the Special Economic Zone White Paper in the Houses of Parliament.
2. Main Policy Considerations
Mr. Speaker, the adoption of a new SEZ regime will ensure that Jamaica is in conformity with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures by December 2015.
A Special Economic Zone (SEZ) by definition is a geographically demarcated area that has different trade and business laws from the rest of the country. It is used to attract foreign direct investment, stimulate local investment, increase trade and create jobs. Jamaica’s SEZ regime representsa customised economic strategy designed to enhance industry competitiveness and positively impact growth.
Let me be clear,SEZs are not a panacea for economic growth in Jamaica, but they represent a tried and proven strategy that has been adopted by various countries to develop and diversify their economies. Importantly, our strategy will ensure there is no negative impact on the country’s existing tax base.
Mr. Speaker, SEZs are used to pilot new policies, and an important part of reforms of the wider economic environment. Some of the immediate areas of policy and strategy reforms includeincentives, customs processes, trade facilitation, business environment and public- private partnerships just to name a few.
The formulation of this SEZ policy was led by a Steering Committee, chaired by Mrs. Patricia Francis, Jamaica’s own global expert on international trade. The Committeeconsisted of representatives from the public and private sector, trade unions, academia and multilateral financial institutions…READ MORE