Construction is to commence on several projects during the 2021/22 financial year, which will provide approximately 400 acres of additional special economic zone (SEZ) space at an estimated value of more than US$1.3 billion.
Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Everald Warmington, made the disclosure during his contribution to the 2021/22 Sectoral debate in the House of Representatives on May 5.
He said that the projects comprise approximately 250 acres of mixed-use facilities, including data centres and petrochemical and logistics industries.
These include Grand Ridge in Montego Bay, a 65-acre zone with commercial, educational, medical/pharmaceutical and commercial industries; a 26-acre film studio and post-production facility in Trelawny; and the Seaview Eco-Industrial Park in the Seaview/Riverton area.
Minister Warmington said that the business confidence in the SEZ model, which was established as an economic stimulus strategy, continues to grow, with heightened local and foreign investor interest in a wide cross-section of traditional as well as new and emerging industries.
He noted that at the end of March 2020, a total of 131 of 134 approved free zone entities, representing 98 per cent, had transitioned to the new SEZ regime.
This number, together with the 52 new SEZ developers, who entered into licensing agreements with the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA), brought the complement of SEZ entities to 183. This represents a growth trajectory of 30 per cent for the new regime.
“With these SEZ entities coming on stream, the Government of Jamaica has earned an increase in revenue from $22 million in 2019 to a reported $381 million in June 2020,” he pointed out.
Furthermore, he noted these additions to the SEZ landscape have translated into approximately 50,391 new jobs in the information and communications technology and business process outsourcing (BPO), agribusiness, logistics and fuel sectors.
“Preliminary data suggest that after all the current SEZ projects in the pipeline have been processed and approved, the total employment numbers should spiral to approximately 65,000, with the majority of the recipients being women,” Mr. Warmington said.
The SEZs are spread across 11 parishes with the aim of stimulating development of commercial and logistical infrastructure to catalyse the economy islandwide.
Jamaica’s SEZs embrace a range of services, including training, incubation space, warehousing and distribution, logistics, manufacturing, assembly, and production facilities.
Currently, the regime boasts 26.6 million square feet of designated SEZ area. There are 12 new zones under construction in a variety of industries, totalling 1.1 million square feet of committed space.
This represents US$660.6 million of direct investment and the addition of 30,226 new jobs, based on investor projection.