MONTEGO BAY – Chairman of the Logistics and Investment Task Force in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Dr. Eric Deans, says the Government’s Global Logistics Hub Initiative will result in a total transformation of the Jamaican economy within the next five years. He said that investors are ready to pump over US$9 billion in the project, which seeks to create a range of special economic zones throughout the country, industrial parks, urban business districts, and technology parks, which will make Jamaica the fourth Logistics Hub in the world. Multi-national companies will be invited to set up operations to provide value-added activities geared towards the international community of some 800 million people. “Jamaica sits in the middle of an 800 million person market, so when we speak of the initiative, it is not about the domestic economy alone. It is about serving the 800 million person market in North America, Central America, and South America. The opportunity we have ahead of us arises primarily from happenings in the external economy. We have the opportunity to exploit changing global trade corridors,” Dr. Deans stated. He was providing details about the project to business people in Montego Bay, at a meeting hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) Jamaica on Thursday (April 18), at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St. James. The Global Logistics Hub Initiative seeks to prepare Jamaica to leverage economic opportunities from the expansion of the Panama Canal, scheduled to be completed in 2015. The key elements of the project are: development of the Caymanas Economic Zone; dredging of the Kingston Harbour; expanding the port facility at Fort Augusta and Gordon Cay; establishing a Dry Dock facility at Jackson Bay, Clarendon; establishing a transshipment commodity port facility near Yallahs, St. Thomas; and developing an air cargo and passenger facility at Vernamfield, in Clarendon. Jamaica is deemed ideally positioned for this undertaking, based on the country’s location, midway between North and South America, and in relatively close proximity to the Panama Canal. “With the bulk of maritime commerce moving from the Asia Pacific region where the main production houses are located now, moving through the Panama Canal, and with Jamaica in the middle of the Americas, we can distribute to that entire area from a hub in Jamaica,” Dr. Deans said. He informed that a major part of the project is the provision of aviation services. “From an aviation perspective, we can also move goods to those major markets within a four to six-hour flight time, so by combining maritime and aviation strategy, we can service the entire Americas in a very efficient manner,” he stated. Dr. Deans noted that the project also seeks to establish Jamaica as an Internet exchange point. “Eighty per cent of the Internet traffic in the region is routed through Miami…the cost of Internet traffic and the speed at which it moves through will be greatly enhanced, and add to Jamaica’s competitive advantage,” he said. The Jamaica Logistics Hub Initiative is a US$8 billion project over a five to 10-year period. The hub’s establishment would make it the fourth such facility globally, along with those in Singapore; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Rotterdam, Netherlands. It will have a major impact on training and job creation.