International transport and logistics hub for Jamaica
The government of Jamaica has revealed its ambitious plan for the Caribbean island most famous for its beaches, music, rum and Usain Bolt, to become a global logistics hub for the Americas and to position it as a regional trading rival to Singapore.
High level discussions have already started with a number of overseas investors to develop vast areas of prime real estate to handle increased volumes of air and sea cargo.
The projects will involve boosting container throughput at the port of Kingston and the development of commodity ports to handle petroleum products, coal, minerals and grain in addition to the development of an air cargo hub through the construction of a freight airport and construction of large scale ship repair dry docks. Special economic zones will also be conceptualised by a wide range of local and foreign investors.
The ambitious plans, fronted by the Jamaica Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, would transform Jamaica into a global supply and logistics hub to compete alongside Dubai, Rotterdam and Singapore.
Anthony Hylton, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, said the vast project contained many opportunities for investors, logistics providers, distributors, manufacturers and suppliers around the world.
I recently returned with a delegation from Asia as part of advancing the logistics hub initiative and the results reaffirmed the soundness of the logistics hub initiative, and further clarified the opportunity and the tasks that are before us.
Dr Eric Deans, Chairman of the Logistics Task Force, identified that a market of 800 million people, including the US and Brazil, could be accessed readily from Jamaica. He also predicted that trade opportunities were set to burst wide open with the expansion of the Panama Canal scheduled to be completed in 2015; the multi-billion stimulus package by Brazil for World Cup 2014 and Olympics 2016; and the growing middle class in Latin America.
He also revealed that a crucial aspect of the global logistics hub initiative was the broadening of bilateral collaborations with Jamaicas global partners, and encouraging private sector investment and financing through private-public partnerships.
Several cornerstone projects are already being introduced, including the Caymanas Special Economic Zone, part of a broader urban development plan called the Caymanas Estate Development Plan. The Urban Development Corporation and Factories Corporation of Jamaica will simultaneously develop 10,000 acres of the Caymanas estate.
The Caymanas Special Economic Zone would have major road networks, including the islands major Highway 2000, feeding into it from various entry points. It would be located near the port of Kingston and the Norman Manley International Airport, therefore facilitating the transport and logistics service needs that would be generated by the activities within the zone.
The government identified the Logistics Hub Initiative as representing the next stage in the evolution of Jamaicas airports, seaports and industrial infrastructure.
The government said,
With the right investment and global partnerships, Jamaica can become the transhipment and air cargo logistics hub of the Americas and the Caribbeans strategic handling point for bulk commodities; the Latin America and Caribbean centre for aviation-related maintenance, repair and overhaul and ship repair and dry docking.
Large corporations and logistics service providers will be enticed to set up operations, control towers, headquarters and BPOs [business process outsourcing] in Jamaica.
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