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Five more companies recommended to operate under SEZ regime

Thursday, December 06, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA) has recommended five additional companies for approval to operate under the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) regime, and is negotiating with another 40 that have expressed an interest.

Chairman, Metry Seaga, told JIS News that the JSEZA Board took the decision to recommend the five new applicants to the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation for consideration during a meeting last week, after reviewing the entities' submissions.

“That will bring the total number of approved new applicants to 15… once those five are approved,” he informed.

Seaga said the 40 prospective firms, which are engaged in operations varying from manufacturing and services to logistics, represent “over US$100 million of investments and in excess of 2,000 jobs”.

He also advises that the process to transition 109 free zone companies to the SEZ regime is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Seaga told JIS News that based on a reverification exercise of the over 219 free zone companies initially registered, 109 were verified as legitimate free zone operators.

He pointed out that entities that were no longer operational or those that were found to be operating within free zones without the requisite documentation, were removed from the listing. The chairman says the transition process, which includes the submission of an application form and supporting documentation, is expected to start early in the New Year.

Seaga said the JSEZA is “very pleased with the level of interest that we are seeing... and feel that we are moving in the right direction”.

He noted that companies are bringing new, exciting and innovative engagements, “which is the intent of the Act… to bring new players into the regime”.

“We're not seeing the regular run-of-the-mill things that we normally see. We feel that this is a good sign and a testament that the architects of this new piece of SEZ legislation did the right thing, because it is creating the investment that we need in the country. So, I'm very happy with where we are, and where we are going,” Seaga said.

For his part, JSEZA Chief Executive Officer, Dr Eric Deans, argues that the diverse range of industries being introduced by various stakeholders augurs well for Jamaica as an investment location, as well as in relation to employment and other positive out-turns.

“We see applications coming in for manufacturing, distribution, logistics, services… and even in the business process outsourcing space… we are seeing more advanced-type activities than just call centre operations coming on stream,” he outlined.

Deans said the JSEZA is “very excited” about the prospects based on “what we see coming down the pipeline… because we have some very large, exciting projects which are on the horizon, which we will see in another couple of years coming to fruition”.

“So, we feel very confident that what we hope to have achieved with this new economic zone regime, is being realised,” he added.

Meanwhile, the JSEZA Director for Investor Relations and Communications, Kelli-Dawn Hamilton, said that it is an exciting time for Jamaica.

“When we talk about investments, I'm very happy to report that a number of the investors that we see coming to the fore are local investors… and we happily partner with them. Our mandate is one that will see Jamaica operating in a whole new way,” she pointed out.

Hamilton notes that local investors are “bullish” on Jamaica, adding that “while we assess each applicant, based on their meeting our requirements, we must partner with those players who have been in the space for some time and who have helped to put Jamaica on the map, as it relates to operating business within the free zone space.”

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