Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, says the proposed global transshipment and logistics hub is the lynch pin of the country's long-term growth strategy.
He argued that in this the 50th year of Independence, and coming from a period of anemic economic growth, Jamaica needs an economic transformation.
The Minister was speaking at a 'Roundtable Discussion on Panama's Logistics Platform…Challenges and Opportunities for Jamaica', at Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), in Kingston, on July 19.
"While there is no magic bullet, no panacea to cure all our economic woes, we are confident that the proposed global logistics hub will result in some level of macro-economic stability, achieved through growth in the economy and the creation of jobs,” Mr. Hylton said.
The Minister informed that plans for the expansion and development of the Panama Canal are expected to result in a shift in the dynamics of global trade, from the Pacific Rim region to the Atlantic region.
"With the projected doubling of the capacity of the Panama Canal by 2015 and the resultant increase in trans-shipment traffic throughout the region, Jamaica must plan and be prepared to maximise the economic opportunities which will arise. We must be ready to stake our claim, carve out our niche and play a larger role in international shipping," he said.
"Based on Jamaica’s geographic location in relation to Panama, and being at the centre of East/West and North/South trade routes, the country is in a prime and highly advantageous position to play a major role in international shipping," the Minister added.
Describing the global transshipment and logistics hub as an idea whose time has come, Mr. Hylton said that, “it fits perfectly with the Government’s thrust to expand Jamaica’s role as an international transshipment cargo hub, with development of enterprise zones and logistics facilities."
Also speaking at the event was Ambassador Yavel Francis Lanuza of the Panamanian firm, FL Francis and Co. Ltd., who made a power point presentation on 'Panama's Logistics Platform: Challenges and Opportunities for Jamaica'.
She explained that more than 70 per cent of Panama’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is based on services.
Ms. Lanuza said that Panama has developed a world class logistics platform; good business climate and facilities; good infrastructure, inclusive of a multi-modal transportation system; has a strong information technology and telecommunication services platform; a city of knowledge; and provides excellent living, medical, social and shopping conditions.
She said that the safest, most efficient way for growth in the country is through investment, and pointed out that international perception of Jamaica is important to attracting investment.
It is estimated that the global logistics market will reach a value of US$4 trillion by 2013. According to statistics provided by JAMPRO, retail logistics services dominate the global market with 63.9 per cent of market value. The Americas account for 35.2 per cent of the global logistics market value.
The proposed Jamaica transshipment and logistics hub will have six discrete but complementary elements, including the dredging of the Kingston Harbour; port facility expansion at Fort Augusta and Gordon Cay; a Dry Dock facility at Jackson Bay, Clarendon; establishment of a transshipment commodity port facility near Yallahs, St Thomas; the Caymanas Economic Zone and the construction of a cargo and maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) facility at Vernamfield, Clarendon.