NEW STIMULUS

Jamaica 2018 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Gordon Shirley, President & CEO of the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), on the country's developing role as a logistics hub, attracting more cruise ships, and his outlook for the economy at large.

Gordon Shirley
BIOGRAPHY
Gordon Shirley is the President & CEO of PAJ. Prior to this, he was the Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies. He is a graduate of the UWI with a degree in engineering and has an MBA from Harvard University in operations and finance and a PhD in business administration in operations management.

What is your role in developing a global logistics hub in Jamaica?

The PAJ signed a concession agreement with Terminal Link Consortium, owned by CMA/CGM, for a period of 30 years to finance, expand, operate, and maintain the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT). This concession supports Jamaica's efforts to become a global leader in trans-shipment as well as a global logistics hub. In support of this agreement, the government of Jamaica and the PAJ are providing the necessary space for landside near-port logistics operations and are commencing the development of the new Kingston Logistics Park (KLP). With this development of modern warehouses, Jamaica is providing a new stimulus to offer modern logistics facilities, as the existing facilities at Kingston Free Zones are old and less attractive to international logistics companies. The park is designed to host logistics and value-added activities/light industrial activities to support the modern port infrastructure that will be available in the Port of Kingston and will have special economic zone (SEZ) status. This will allow firms to fully utilize a wide range of favorable conditions for international trade such as the exemption of duties and taxes and attractive lease prices. This brand-new KLP will be operational in August 2018. It contributes to Jamaica's ambition to develop from a global trans-shipment hub to global logistics hub. Logistics companies and large international trading companies can now seek the opportunity to take advantage of Jamaica's strategic and cost-effective position in global cargo trade. KLP will be located adjacent to the Kingston Port and operate in the same SEZ. The PAJ is developing and implementing the KLP to provide, for the immediate term, modern facilities to showcase Jamaica's logistics potential. These initial warehouses can be considered as incubators, to enable firms to “try before they buy." Warehouses can be configured to accommodate from 500 to 5,000sqm, focusing on import and re-exporting to regional destinations including in the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the Gulf and East Coast of the US.

How could Jamaica attract even more cruise ships in the future?

In the short to medium term our specific focus is the upgrading of our existing cruise port facilities; however, in the longer term we will seek to develop additional berths. Last year we began the upgrading of the terminal buildings in Montego Bay to accommodate two homeports simultaneously. This year we have been upgrading the berthing capacity at the Reynolds Pier facility in Ocho Rios, which will allow us to accommodate two post-Panamax vessels in the same day in Ocho Rios. Next year we will be dredging the Port of Falmouth to accommodate two Oasis-class vessels, the largest class of cruise vessel in the world, at the same time. Additionally, for the long term, we are also evaluating other areas of the island that may be ideally suited for cruise shipping growth. Dredging works will be undertaken at the historic Falmouth Port this year to increase the port's capacity. Currently the port can facilitate one Oasis-class and one Freedom-class vessel simultaneously. Expansion works will enable to port to berth two Oasis-class vessels at the same time. Extensive development has been undertaken at the Port of Montego Bay to increase the port's competitiveness and improve the cruise passenger experience. This includes the construction of a new cargo berth and the expansion of the cruise shipping terminal as well as the addition of a new shopping arcade and other amenities. Jamaica will also need to give sharp focus to the development of new attractions and continue to implement strategies to reduce cruise visitor harassment in order to improve its attractiveness as a cruise ship destination.

What positive trends do you see for the Jamaican economy?

The local economy continues to demonstrate positive trends generally and reflects the outcome of the economic policies being pursued by the government. The level of unemployment is decreasing, and new jobs are being created especially in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, where the authority is a major player in the BPO investment space. Inflation continues to be low and this is as a direct result of relatively stable oil prices along with the government's efforts to streamline related policies.