The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce is seeking the support of members of the Diplomatic Corps to attract widescale investment inputs from overseas private and public sector interests, in the development of Jamaica's global transshipment and logistics hub.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, extended this invitation while making a presentation entitled: 'Jamaica – the Global Logistics Hub of the Americas: Leveraging the Power of Speed and Connectivity’, to representatives at Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) corporate offices, in New Kingston, on December 3.
The Minister said that Jamaica, like many other countries, is “financially constrained,” and in this regard, “we are seeking investment from the global community, not just locally."
“We hope that you will communicate (plans for the development), not only to your governments, but also to your private sector, to your chambers and your other private sector organisations. Let it be known generally that this is Jamaica’s thinking, this is Jamaica’s plan, and we are inviting investments from governments, private sector, anybody that qualifies,” Mr. Hylton told the diplomats.
The Minister cited the “tremendous” global investment interest being expressed, particularly in Asia.
“I would want you to urge your investors, if they are interested, to express their positions, because others are doing so…this opportunity will not wait,” he said.
Development of the transshipment and logistics hub is being undertaken by the government in a bid to position Jamaica to take advantage of the anticipated increased maritime activities, expected to result from the expansion of the Panama Canal, by 2015.
Mr. Hylton said the proposed development, targeted for implementation over a five to six-year period, at a cost of US$5-6 billion, represents an “investment opportunity” for local and international private and public sector interests.
Central to the development are: dredging of the Kingston Harbour; expansion of the port of Kingston; development of the Caymanas Economic Zone, a transshipment commodity port, and Vernamfield in Clarendon as an air-cargo and passenger facility; and establishment a dry dock facility.
“The development of our transportation – maritime, aviation, road, and rail – and logistics infrastructure will enable us to position Jamaica as the hub of the Americas (North and South). The comprehensive vision involves the development of an integrated logistics system or network that will serve as a global asset, pushing us to the centre of the global supply chain of the Americas,” Mr. Hylton said.
The Minister is upbeat about the response to the initiative by interests in China and Singapore, where he led a delegation to make presentations on the proposed development, recently.
“The results of my trip are very re-affirming and instructive. The results re-affirmed the soundness of the logistics hub initiative. Based on all of the consultations that I have had with major global players in the logistics and shipping industry, I firmly believe that Jamaica can become the fourth node or pillar in the global supply and logistics chain, along with Singapore, Rotterdam, and Dubai,” he said.
Regarding benefits which the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) can derive from the hub, Mr. Hylton opined that it would be pivotal in developing a transportation system for the organization, which that body has “lacked.” This, he noted, has inhibited trade within and outside the region.
“So, we envision that this (hub) will energise CARICOM trade and, certainly, provide the logistic capability for CARICOM, not only within, but (outside),” he argued.
Mr. Hylton is confident that about Jamaica’s capabilities to deal with the anticipated developments, consequent on the Panama canal’s expansion.
“Competing ports along the eastern seaboard of the United States are in the process of planning expansions to ensure their capability to accommodate super vessels capable of accommodating 13,000 TEUs. Jamaica is well advanced in our plans to expand the Port of Kingston to handle these super vessels when the expansion is completed. This will give us a competitive advantage in our efforts to develop the country as a global logistics hub,” the Minister said.