In his Budget presentation, Prime Minister Andrew Holness reasserted the Government’s objectives to make Jamaica a logistics centre. The prime minister committed resources to ensure that the logistics projects were expedited. This was the basis of an investor tour of the Port of Kingston facilities, coordinated by the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) and hosted by Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL).
KWL, leader in logistics services in Jamaica, welcomed the touring party, which included representatives of the International Finance Cooperation, Export Development Canada, the Caribbean Development Bank, Inter-American Investment Cooperation, Portland Private Equity, and Portland JSX. The investors were briefed on work Kingston Wharves has been doing in the field of logistics and the modernisation of the port facilities to take advantage of Jamaica’s location with the expansion of the Panama Canal.
Among the highlights of the work KWL has been doing in the field of logistics are:
– Becoming one of the largest trans-shipment ports for motor vehicles in the region. Its portfolio of clients is blue chip as it is the regional hub for Hoegh Autoliners and services five of the world’s top-10 global autoliners. This logistics business is only limited by the current capacity. Companies utilising logistics services include Hyundai and Suzuki.
– Providing logistic services and facilities to a number of companies, ties on and off port. These include Total Jamaica, Pricesmart, Castrol, Mobil, GlaxoSmithKline, and Palace Resorts.
– The construction of a Total Logistics Facility to ease the process of doing business on the port. The facility, when completed, will revolutionise the process that now obtains.
Grantley Stephenson, CEO of Kingston Wharves, while highlighting the work that Kingston Wharves has done in developing and growing its logistics business, also spoke of some of the impediments to doing business. Among the points raised is the need to modernise the Customs regulations, including one Customs zone for the Port of Kingston rather than one for each terminal operator. He also spoke to the need to ensure that regulations are not open to interpretation and are applied evenly everywhere.
The chairman of Kingston Wharves, Jeffrey Hall, encouraged the investors to see the potential in Kingston Wharves and noted that the company had been positioning itself to take advantage of the opportunities opening up.
The PAJ also presented its vision for the development of a logistics centre within the Newport West, Gordon Cay, and Tinson Pen areas. The PAJ posited that while the terminals would compete, their mandate is to present the Port of Kingston as the ideal location to do business in the region. Ed Marsh, vice-president of business development at the PAJ, in his presentation, indicated that the port and the establishment of Kingston as a logistics centre is vital to the Government’s Economic Growth Strategy. This point was reinforced by Professor Gordon Shirley, president and CEO of the PAJ, who was also in attendance.
The team was taken on a tour of the Kingston Wharves facilities, which included the main port terminal, trans-shipment car park, logistics centres for Total Jamaica and Pricesmart, and the Total Logistics Facility, still under construction.
The participants included a team from Portland Private Equity led by Robert Almeida with Joe Vescio, Doug Hewson, Kip Thompson, Huelya Soeguet, and Justin Loasby. Also included were Peter Blackman, Caribbean Development Bank; Robert Sturgeon, Export Development Canada; Jennifer McLeod Petrini, International Finance Corporation; Andres Ackerman, Inter-American Investment Corporation; Patrick McDonald, Portland JSX; Professor Gordon Shirley and Ed Marsh, Port Authority of Jamaica; Charles Johnston, Kingston Wharves Limited; Dr Eric Deans, Special Economic Zone Authority; Clover Moodie, Valerie Campbell, and Simone Murdock, Kingston Wharves.