The Logistics Hub Clock is Ticking

Administrator on September 25, 2014, 6:48 am 734 3
The Logistics Hub Clock is Ticking

As the project to expand the Panama Canal progresses towards its December 2015 deadline, the question is asked, is Jamaica really ready to take full advantage of this expansion? Up to now, Jamaica's Logistics Hub initiative is slowly moving along, with still more discussions and agreements to iron out. The country is still searching for investors with deep pockets to buy into the Logistics Hub dream and time is running out. The only group that has so far expressed an interest is the Chinese and their controversial preference to develop Goat Islands as a trans shipment hub appears to have found tacit acceptance within the government. News is that in March 2014, the Government of Jamaica and the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) signed a framework agreement, signalling the go ahead for the Chinese to proceed.

What's at Stake

Other countries in the region, including the Dominican Republic, and Cuba are taking steps toward developing their own logistics hubs. Jamaica's plans are to expand the Kingston Wharves and other ports to accommodate the movement of larger ships through our waters. The Logistics Hub is however much more than the expansion of wharves, as it also entails the development and enhancement of road and rail transportation, telecommunication, warehousing and financial and human resource services. Jamaica's continued search for investors is becoming crucial as time ticks on as the price tag for the Island's development of its Logistics Hub has been placed at around US$15 Billion, as estimated by the World Bank's International Finance Corporation. Clearly to establish this world class Logistics Hub will require public private partnerships (PPPs) of no mean order as neither the Government of Jamaica nor the private sector can stand this bill alone.

Time is of the essence and according to the Jamaica Chambers of Commerce in a recent presentation, the timeline for the establishment of Jamaica's first Logistics Park is to open and operate the Caymanas 200 acre Logistics Park by July 1, 2016; Start constructing the Caymanas Logistics Park by the second quarter of 2015; but before these can commence, complete negotiations and finalise agreements with investors (both International and Jamaican) by the fourth quarter of 2014 to the second quarter of 2015.

The Logistics Park is just a part of what should be expected with this Logistics Hub. First off, jobs in the region of between 2,000 to 10,000 are expected, but Jamaica must train and certify highly skilled personnel to international standards to meet the demands of the Logistics Hub. In addition, the legal framework for the operation of this Logistic Hub, and for ease of doing business, will become crucial. As the WTO mandated, Jamaica must close its Free Zones by the end of 2015, and efforts by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce to pave the way for the establishment of Special Economic Zones are heating up. Truth is, Jamaica must meet deadlines if it is to benefit from its own advantage as part of a key trade route in the Western Hemisphere.

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