KINGSTON, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Jamaica aims to seize the opportunity of the widening of Panama Canal to upgrade itself into a global logistics hub.
In the just-concluded two-day Jamaica Logistics Hub Symposium, industry experts, business leaders and international funding agencies convened to explore the business opportunities in the Caribbean island state
Seeking to take advantage of the imminent widening of the canal and Jamaica's strategic location at the crossroads of major international shipping lanes, the government has projected Jamaica could join Rotterdam, Dubai and Singapore as the fourth global logistics hub.
It is also the single largest project to be undertaken by the government.
"The expansion and modernization of the Panama Canal will provide a re-ordering of maritime traffic in East-West trade between the Far East, Europe and the Americas," Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller told the opening of the symposium, "Transforming Jamaica's Business Landscape," adding Jamaica intended to take "maximum advantage of the opportunities" it presented.
The ports in Jamaica were evolving from simple international trade gateways to an integral element in the global supply chain and logistics industries, Simpson Miller said.
The logistics hub would cluster global logistics firms and their suppliers in designated industrial complexes or special economic zones, and transport their products via Jamaica's infrastructure to global markets, she said.
Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister Anthony Hylton said Jamaica had lost its competitive edge in goods production over the past two decades and the hub initiative was an opportunity to cease and reverse this trend.
"We are really at a turning point," said World Bank representative to Jamaica, Giorgio Valentini, who has been working on the project for the past two years. "This year can be the year in which Jamaica can see some of those big results coming to fruition."
The Jamaica Logistics Hub is a core plank in the government's economic growth strategy, which aims to boost investment and create sustainable employment over the long term, and propel Jamaica to become a major player in global trade.