Investor group to pump US$5b in logistics-related projects


MONTEGO BAY, St James — Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton has announced Cabinet’s approval of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with an investor group that has expressed “solid interest” in investing US$5 billion in a series of logistics-related infrastructure projects.

According to Hylton, the investment will transform the “business landscape for logistics in Jamaica”.

“[It will] position the country for increased investments in related sectors such as manufacturing, outsourcing, financial services, tourism, and of course agribusiness and creative industries; industries such as those that we will be discussing over the next few days,” Hylton noted as he addressed yesterday’s opening of the two-day Jamaica Investment Forum 2015 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

Jamaica, the minister said, is working hard to quickly position itself as the leading logistic hub in the Americas.

“We are moving with deliberate speed to attract and sustain the right mix of investment and global partnerships to realise our ambitions of becoming the logistics hub of the Americas, and the fourth pillar in the global trading system,” Hylton noted.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who also addressed the forum, said that the country is now at the point of transforming concepts into colossal investments.

“We are ready to move from ideas and the production of samples to major investments and large-scale operations,” the prime minister said, emphasising that “it is not by accident that Jamaica’s profile as a leading Caribbean business and investment destination is strong and rising”.

She pointed to the economy’s recent good showing in the area of foreign direct investment (FDI), saying sums invested more than doubled to US$561 million by 2013, after sinking to a “dangerous low” of US$211 million in the years prior.

“As we continue our upward movement in this regard, I say to you, there is room for more investment in our economy. Opportunities are plenty, investor confidence is high; now is the time to invest in Jamaica,” Simpson Miller stated. “We are open for business on a global scale. We are the best place to do business in the Caribbean, as recently profiled by the influential Forbes magazine.”

Additionally, she cited major investments in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, which currently employs over 17,000 and which is on track to rake in US$500 million by the end of this fiscal year.

“The sector has also improved on its earnings, moving from US$300 million in 2012 to US$500 million in 2015 — an increase of 66 per cent. The sector currently employs more than 17,000 people, up from 12,000 in 2012,” the prime minister outlined, attributing the growth in part to the inaugural staging of the investment forum in 2012.

“There is a clear connection between the Jamaica Investment Forum in 2012 and the growth we are experienc-ing in Jamaica’s ICT/BPO business,” Simpson Miller reasoned.

Yesterday, Hans Schulz, vice-president for private sector at the Inter-American Development Bank, pledged his organisation’s continued commitment to assist the country.

“From my perspective, Jamaica’s economy is ripe for increased private sector investment and increased economic growth. I believe that, by investing in connectivity to global markets, supporting the transformation to a low-carbon sustainable economy, and building opportunities for business, especially SMEs (small, and medium-sized enterprises), we can help launch Jamaica to a path of sustainable, long-term growth,” Schulz asserted.