By the Caribbean Journal staff
Jamaica wants to transform Kingston into a regional transshipment hub, and is looking to the country’s diplomatic corps to help attract widescale investment inputs on the project, according to Industry Minister Anthony Hylton.
Hylton extended the invitation to Jamaica’s diplomats while presenting the vision for Jamaica as a global logistics hub for the Americas in a speech to JAMPRO reps in New Kingston on Monday.
“We hope that you will communicate (plans for the development), not only to your governments, but also to your private sector, to your chambers and your other private sector organizations,” he said. “Let it be known generally that this is Jamaica’s thinking, this is Jamaica’s plan, and we are inviting investments from governments, private sector, anybody that qualifies,” Mr. Hylton told the diplomats.
Hylton said there has been “tremendous” interest being expressed in the project, particularly from Asia.
“The results of my trip are very re-affirming and instructive. The results re-affirmed the soundness of the logistics hub initiative,” he said. “Based on all of the consultations that I have had with major global players in the logistics and shipping industry, I firmly believe that Jamaica can become the fourth node or pillar in the global supply and logistics chain, along with Singapore, Rotterdam, and Dubai.”
That has come specifically from China and Singapore, he said, where Hylton recently led delegations to present on the project.
The development would include the dredging of the Kingston Harbour; expansion of the port of Kingston; development of the Caymanas Economic Zone, a transshipment commodity port, and Vernamfield in Clarendon as an air-cargo and passenger facility; and the establishment of a dry dock facility.
“The development of our transportation – maritime, aviation, road, and rail – and logistics infrastructure will enable us to position Jamaica as the hub of the Americas (North and South),” he said. “The comprehensive vision involves the development of an integrated logistics system or network that will serve as a global asset, pushing us to the centre of the global supply chain of the Americas.”
The proposed development, which is targeted for implementation over a five-to-six year period, would come at a cost of between $5 billion and $6 billion USD.
“We are seeking investment from the global community, not just locally,” he said. “I would want you to urge your investors, if they are interested, to express their positions, because others are doing so — this opportunity will not wait,” he said.
He said the hub would also help energize CARICOM trade.
“Competing ports along the eastern seaboard of the United States are in the process of planning expansions to ensure their capability to accommodate super vessels capable of accommodating 13,000 TEUs,” he said. “Jamaica is well advanced in our plans to expand the Port of Kingston to handle these super vessels when the expansion is completed. This will give us a competitive advantage in our efforts to develop the country as a global logistics hub.”
According to data from the Planning Institute of Jamaica, the development of the hub could provide Jamaica with a 17 percent increase in GDP over the next six to eight years.