JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The White Paper on the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) was tabled in the House of Representatives on July 21, by Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton.
  • Special Economic Zones represent a wide variety of geographically- demarcated areas that offer simple and efficient business regulations and procedures to investors.
  • Mr. Hylton noted that 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.

The White Paper on the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) was tabled in the House of Representatives on July 21, by Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton.

Special Economic Zones represent a wide variety of geographically- demarcated areas that offer simple and efficient business regulations and procedures to investors.

Mr. Hylton noted that 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, 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,” he explained.

He added that Jamaica’s SEZ regime represents a 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. Hylton said.

Some of the main expected outcomes of the policy include the development of a modern and integrated regulatory framework that embraces best practices in business and trade facilitation, and the creation of sustainable business linkages between SEZs and the rest of the economy.

The Industry Minister noted that SEZs will become a platform to attract foreign and local direct investments as well as new and diverse industries, adding that the eligibility criteria for companies to conduct operations within an SEZ will be supported by a comprehensive analysis of industries that are best suited for Jamaica.

Mr. Hylton said as such, industries that are high in the global value chain will be targeted, as this will allow local manufacturers, which meet international standards, to be linked to, and included in the global supply chain of these targeted enterprises.

Other expected benefits of this SEZ Regime are additional economic activity from the promotion of increased exports of goods and services and the creation of employment opportunities.

Meanwhile, the SEZ Policy Steering Committee has now engaged a suitable consultant for legislative technical assistance and regulatory drafting of the SEZ Law and the associated regulations.

Mr. Hylton said the consultant is being funded under the World Bank’s Foundations for Competitiveness and Growth Project.

The consultant’s key deliverables are: giving drafting instructions for the new primary legislation for SEZ Regime and providing drafting instructions for related SEZ regulations that will govern the operations of SEZs tailored to the specific circumstances of Jamaica and the overarching logistics-centric objectives of the Government.

The legislation and regulatory framework is scheduled for tabling in the Houses of Parliament by November 2015.