JAMAICA: Logistics hub initiative advances

2015 February: When Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller and her Ministers made themselves personally available to potential business investors in March of this year, they were expected to know everything about the potential of Jamaica’s logistics sector. As one advisory noted:  “…it will be a key industry focus at JIF 2015.”

JIF-2015, or otherwise the Jamaica Investment Forum 2015, is a biennial event (this year March 10 -12) at the Montego Bay Conference Centre. An international investment and business conference organized by the country’s national investment promotion agency, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), the event was designed to provide investors and business executives an exclusive opportunity for face-to-face dialogue with the Prime Minister of Jamaica and other senior officials in the Jamaican government apparatus. However, Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, as host, was not expected to miss any opportunity to plug Jamaica’s initiatives in building a world standard logistics centre.

The Jamaica Logistics Hub Initiative is in an advance state of preparation. As planned and projected, it will be the fourth (global logistics) node, joining Singapore, Dubai and Rotterdam. Given its location to major sea lanes, the hub is expected to make Jamaica significant in global shipping and logistics. The country is in cruising distance of markets of 800 million including North America and Brazil. And the hub will be able to receive post-panamax ships travelling from the Asia-Pacific region. These ships will have a direct shipping lane from the Pacific to the Atlantic (Eastern Seaboard and South Atlantic).

The government of Jamaica has decided to privatise the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT) which forms part of the Port of Kingston. The KCT negotiation is well advanced and should result in the expansion of the port and dredging of the ship channel to 15.5 metres. Currently, the Port of Kingston is one of the leading transshipment hubs in the region with a throughput of 1.7m teu in 2013. The privatization of KCT and subsequent modernization and expansion will expand capacity from 2.8 million to 5.5 million teu.

Other plans include the development of a logistics park with multimodal connectivity to the Norman Manley International airport. This project will be handled by the KCT through a private-public-partnership or a joint venture. This logistics park will be designated a Special Economic Zone with capacity to accommodate manufacturing companies, third party logistics providers and retailers.

Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL), a multi-purpose terminal situated in the Port of Kingston, is a key component of Jamaica’s Global Logistics Hub. Keeping pace with the Jamaica Logistics Hub Initiative, KWL began an expansion and modernization programme. It is expected to cost the company US$70million and will take five years for completion. KWL started the first phase of construction in October last. This project, a US$20 million investment, will involve building a Total Logistics Facility with 150,000 square feet of modular warehouse. It is expected that construction will last for a year and that the facility will be commissioned in January 2016.

Kingston Wharves Total Logistics Centre will provide space for manufacturing, third party logistics, warehousing and value-added services including assembly, labelling, testing/ examination, packaging and repackaging, sorting and invoicing. Kingston Wharves’ logistics park is currently a free zone but will transition into a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), once the new SEZ regime becomes effective in 2015.  []