IMF Agreement will not affect Shipping and Logistics Project – Hylton

Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, is allaying concerns that the conclusion of an agreement with the International Monetary (IMF) could impact progress on the development of Jamaica’s global shipping and logistics hub.

Speaking at the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce’s (JCC) Breakfast Forum at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston on Tuesday (December 18), Mr. Hylton said that the Government has already indicated that the hub’s development is the administration’s “priority programme and strategy.”

“Therefore, we, meaning the Ministry (of Industry, Investment and Commerce), myself, the (Global Shipping and Logistics) Task Force, and the Cabinet, expect that whatever resources are needed, that Government has to facilitate, that those will be at hand, and that has been the experience, so far,” he indicated.

“And let me say this, not one foreign investor has raised with me (concerns regarding) the IMF, not one; because they are not interested. They are looking at the global opportunity and they are responding to that. The IMF is not a constraint to foreign investment, given the scale and scope of this opportunity,” Mr. Hylton underscored.

Development of the hub, which is estimated will cost between US$8 billion and US$10 billion, is being spearheaded by the Government in an effort to position Jamaica to take advantage of the anticipated increased maritime activities, expected to result from the expansion of the Panama Canal, by 2015.

Central to the development are: dredging of the Kingston Harbour; expansion of the Port of Kingston; development of Caymanas Economic Zone, a transshipment commodity port, and Vernamfield in Clarendon as an air-cargo and passenger facility; and establishment a dry dock facility.

The hub’s development would make it the fourth such facility globally, alongside those in Singapore; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Rotterdam, Netherlands. Jamaica is deemed ideally positioned for the establishment of the hub, based on its location, midway between North and South America, and in relative proximity to the Panama Canal.

Pointing out that the attendant activities in the project’s development “lend themselves to public-private partnerships”, Mr. Hylton assured that overseas stakeholders interested in investing “are here”.

He is urging interested local stakeholders to indicate their intentions in good time.