VIDEO: Is Jamaica the next major international logistics hub?
When you think of Jamaica, most people have a picture of dreamy white sands and crystal clear waters on an idyllic beach. The closest thing you may associate with the Caribbean island in regards to a supply chain is care-free fisherman on rickety wooden boats, sourcing exotic fresh produce along the coastlines.
So could Jamaica really be the next major international logistics hub? The proposed transformation of Jamaica into a world class logistics centre is unquestionably the most ambitious and far-reaching project yet since the country an independent state over 50 years ago.
A Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce statement said the Government of Jamaica made strides towards the achievement of the growth agenda through the recent signing of a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to pave the way for a possible $5 billion investment earlier this evening.
The MOU, which was signed by Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Anthony Hylton, Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Omar Davies and the proposing parties, Krauck Systems and Anchor Finance Group. The negotiations came about as a result of an unsolicited Expression of Interest (EOI) to the Government.
The Expression of Interest is a comprehensive funding and development package to allow for the build out of various elements of the Global Logistics Hub Initiative (GLHI). In response to this EOI, the Government has moved to put in place an MOU to facilitate discussions and negotiations with the proposing parties.
The Industry Minister speaking in reference to the MOU stated, “It will create an environment of mutual trust and confidentiality in which both parties can share information, discuss specific projects and adopt all reasonable measures to ensure the realization of the objectives of the GLHI. It will also allow for the development of an action plan with specific timelines for the completion of the agreed projects.”
Speaking of the country’s chances of becoming a global player and an international hub, Francis Kennedy, President, Jamaica Chamber of Commerce said: “The Jamaican economy must in our view undergo the long-overdue shift from being primarily inward-looking, to an economy that is fully integrated into global value and supply chains. It is a major task but one that is within our capacity to accomplish.”
Transnational corporations and multinational businesses seeking to gain first mover advantage in the wake of the widening of the Panama Canal, are looking at Jamaica as a prime location to establish their manufacturing and distribution operations. As a result Jamaica is galvanizing itself to be ready to capitalise on the commercial opportunities arising from the Post-Panamax era of more and bigger ocean-going vessels operating in the Caribbean Basin.
In a region which has some of the highest commercial traffic in the world, a port of reference in the Caribbean makes sense, and as ambitious and unlikely as it first sounds, we really could be seeing the rise to prominence of the international logistics hub of Jamaica.