KINGSTON, Jamaica – Work is far advanced for further collaboration between Jamaica and Panama toward the development of the island’s logistics hub initiative, says Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton.
“There is in the process, very advanced, a formal agreement between Jamaica and Panama that is… being worked out,” he stated.
The minister was responding to questions during the closing session of the two-day Jamaica Chamber of Commerce/JAMPRO Jamaica logistics hub symposium on Jan. 22, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.
Hylton said that there is already “significant cooperation” between the two countries at the level of education and training.
“We (have) talked about the multilingual skills that have to be developed and we are working already with Panama to train them to come here for English and we go there for the Spanish. Training (is) already beginning in the zones in the areas that are critical to the success of our logistics hub.”
Hylton said that Jamaica stands ready to collaborate with partners both locally and internationally for the continued development of the island, noting that “Jamaica is friends with everyone and enemy to none.”
Director of marketing, Colon Free Trade Zone, Panama, Sonia Antón, stressed her company’s support in assisting Jamaica to become a key player in the logistics hub industry.
“We are going to give 100 percent of our support to your country and all the countries that need (it), our hands are open,” she said.
The Colón Free Trade Zone is a large entity near the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal, dedicated to re-exporting a wide variety of merchandise to Latin America and the Caribbean. It is the largest free zone in the Americas and the second largest in the world. Created in 1948, the free zone houses 1, 751 merchants, and receives more than 250,000 visitors per year from all parts of the world.
Panama and Jamaica have maintained official diplomatic relations since July 1966.
Attending the symposium are key players in the private sector, experts in logistics, investors, government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, as well as a wide cross-section of other critical stakeholders.
The Jamaica Logistics Hub is central to the government’s economic growth strategy, aimed at driving investment and creating sustainable employment over the long term.
Jamaica will seek to capitalize on its prime location for increased maritime and aviation traffic through the region, with the opening of the expanded Panama Canal in 2015.
The hub will allow Jamaica to elevate its position in the global value and supply chains, with facilities that feature state-of-the-art special economic zones, attracting major transnational manufacturing and distribution companies.
It will also present a myriad of opportunities for the growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses, through linkages that connect them to global markets.