By Alphea Saunders
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- The Jamaica Logistics Hub Initiative is quickly gaining traction with potential international investors, who have expressed interest in partnering with the government, and investing in the initiative.
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Anthony Hylton, said the recent government/private sector mission to the Middle East was a “phenomenal success”.
The seven-member delegation met with several influential players in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, mainly in aviation, logistics and financing.
As a result of the mission, Hylton and the Kuwaiti Minister of Finance signed the Jamaica-Kuwait Bilateral Investment Treaty, which guarantees protection and fair and equitable treatment of investors from both countries. It also provides companies with legal standing in dispute settlement.
“This bodes well for Jamaica’s efforts to encourage investments from Kuwait,” Hylton told a press briefing on Tuesday, when he reported on the outcome of that trip.
Additionally, the government is to develop a draft memorandum of understanding with Dry Docks Dubai, the largest dry dock in the Middle East, regarding the potential partnership in developing the logistics project.
Hylton also said that both Dubai Port (DP) World and Dry Docks World Dubai have committed to visit the island in coming months, to have further discussions.
Another tangible action to be taken, capitalising on the benefits of the mission, is discussions to be led by Hylton, along with the Steering Committee for the Port Community System, JAMPRO, and the Shipping Association of Jamaica, with the Customs Department, and the Ministry of Finance and Planning. The discussions will focus on Kuwait’s customs and port community system, and e-government platform.
This is as a result of Agility Logistics, the leading outward investor in Kuwait, offering its expertise in increasing efficiencies in trade facilitation, particularly in e-government initiatives.
During the mission, the delegation visited Al Maktoum International Airport and met with the deputy chairman of Emirates Airlines, to discuss transshipment operations, and the centrality of logistics as a growth catalyst.
The minister pointed out that the meetings with Agility Logistics, DP World, and Dry Dock World Dubai were “particularly fruitful, as each company expressed its keen interest in supporting Jamaica in the development of the Jamaica logistics project.”
He emphasised that the Jamaica Logistics Hub concept was in fact “fully aligned” with DP World and Dry Docks World’s own strategy for expansion into the global logistics industry.
“The potential partnership opportunity with DP World, which manages the Jebel Ali Port, and operates free zones across Dubai, was particularly encouraging, given their investments in Latin America and the Caribbean, and there is an interest in replicating their efforts in Jamaica,” Hylton said.
The industry and investment minister has already engaged missions to Panama, the Netherlands, China, and Singapore.
“One thing is consistently clear… the rest of the world believes in the Jamaica Logistics Hub,” he said.
The government is seeking to take advantage of the increase in the movement of goods when the expanded Panama Canal opens in 2015. It is moving ahead to prepare the workforce, build out the necessary infrastructure, and put in place the legislative arrangements that will allow the country to take its place as the world’s fourth node in the global supply chain.
Hylton noted that at this stage, with the assistance of multilateral organisations, a master plan is being designed. This will become the road map for the establishment of the hub.