Jamaica will host the World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) Annual Conference and Exhibition 2022 (AICE 2022) at the Montego
Bay Conference Centre from June 13 – 17. AICE 2022 is being held under the theme “Your Partner for Resilience, Prosperity and Sustainability.”
More than 1,000 delegates from many of the 140 World FZO member countries are expected to be present for the 8 th staging of the annual event, which the Jamaica Special Economic Zones Authority (JSEZA) successfully bid to host.
The Ministerial Committee comprises Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism and the Hon. Olivia Grange, Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture.
JSEZA is an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce.
Designated Public Beaches In Jamaica To Be Upgraded This Fiscal Year
Designated public beaches will be upgraded this fiscal year, to improve the overall experience of Jamaicans, says Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness.
Speaking at the official ceremony to break ground for the 700-room RIU Aquarelle in Coopers Pen, Falmouth, on April 20, Mr. Holness said this is being done to facilitate the Government’s commitment to good governance and the unwavering belief that Jamaicans should be able to enjoy the natural assets of their country.
He emphasised that public beaches must be protected, where the people can continue to enjoy a proud national pastime and where families and communities can have easy access.
“At a minimum, where applicable, each beach will be getting changing areas and restroom facilities, perimeter fencing, parking, gazebos, bandstands, children’s play areas, walkways, electricity, water, sewerage treatment facilities, among other amenities,” the Prime Minister noted.
“We never escape our history, and our history has not always been kind to the generations. But as the generations progress and we emerge as new leaders, we must ensure that we don’t make the mistakes of the past, that we don’t dispossess our people of their natural assets, and that as we pursue economic development, which we oftentimes conceptualise in buildings and roads, that we do not deprive the people of the use of their natural assets,” Mr. Holness added.
He said the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), which has already begun consultations with several communities across the island, will be financing the beach-upgrade initiative “with at least one to be addressed in each parish”.
“Development must take place with Jamaica’s social context in mind,” the Prime Minister argued.
In the meantime, Mr. Holness said that despite the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) being withdrawn, Jamaicans should continue to make good decisions regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, noting that it remains a clear and present danger.
“We are strongly recommending that you continue to wear your mask, sanitise… maintain social distance and exercise a degree of caution. That vigilance [however] must be exercised by the individual,” the Prime Minister noted.
“Entities such as hotels, schools, and other institutions can maintain their own protocols while the Government will, from time to time, give an indication as to what the high-level threats are, and from that you can implement your own measures that you would require. It’s up to the individual to make responsible decisions,” he added.
Investment Minister Encourages Local & Diaspora Participation in World Free Zones Organisation Annual International Exhibition & Conference
Senator Aubyn Hill, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, is encouraging Jamaican entrepreneurs, based locally and in the Diaspora, to have their businesses showcased on the world stage by using the opportunity offered at the World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) Annual Conference and Exhibition 2022 (AICE 2022) to be held in Montego Bay, June 13 -17 this year. An increasing number of companies around the world are signaling their interest in participating in this premier event.
More than 1,000 delegates from many of the 140 World FZO member countries are expected to be at the Montego Bay Conference Centre for the 8th staging of the annual conference and exhibition, which the Jamaica Special Economic Zones Authority, JSEZA, made a successful bid to host. JSEZA is an agency in Minister Hill’s portfolio.
“The AICE event usually features global free zone practitioners, policy-makers and representatives from multi-lateral organizations who use this event to share experiences and projections for global commercial activity,” the Minister explained. “We expect stakeholders across multiple industries to be in Jamaica to make decisions about investments and partnerships. It will provide an ideal platform to showcase Jamaican businesses who want to expand, and underscore the excellence of our tourism product and the rich cultural heritage for which we are world renowned.”
The last in-person World Free Zones conference and exhibition saw approximately 700 delegates in Barcelona, Spain in 2019. Minister Hill expects the take up for this staging to be higher. The international business community is anxious to ramp up commercial activity as the pandemic subsides and the more than two-year lapse since the last World FZO conference.
“Jamaica is especially well-suited to host this anxiously awaited World FZO conference. We are always a highly desirable destination for both business and pleasure and this will be the first major business event in Jamaica since 2020,” he elaborated.
He noted that in addition to exhibition spaces, entities will be able to sponsor events and conference areas, affording businesses high visibility and the opportunity to network with potential local and international partners and clients.
AICE 2022 is being held under the theme Zones:“Your Partner for Resilience, Prosperity and Sustainability” and the programme will include a Free Zone Outlook international conference where panelists will explore themes including supply chain resilience, global taxation reforms, the future of inclusive e-commerce, and building a new generation of entities committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Environmental, Social and Government (ESG) investment. There will also be an exhibition, workshops, and a Jamaica cultural night.
The website, aice2022.com is now open for registration.
Jamaica Stands To Benefit From SEZ Investment
Jamaica stands to benefit significantly from investment in special economic zones (SEZ) and the country’s bid to become a global logistics hub, says Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill.
SEZs are areas within a country that are created to facilitate rapid economic growth, by leveraging tax incentives as a way of attracting foreign investment and technological advancement.
Logistics services are strongly associated with trade expansion and export diversification.
Citing the example of countries such as Singapore, Israel and Qatar, with relatively comparable populations but significantly higher gross domestic product (GDP) per capita than Jamaica, Minister Hill argued that Jamaica cannot attain economic wealth by limiting output and markets.
“We need to export a lot more, but it’s important that we export not just goods but also services. What local businesses must do, if we are going to change from three million people with a small per-capita GDP to three million people with a rich per-capita GDP, is that people who trade must now look to invest in our country to manufacture, build, package, repackage, assemble things and provide services that we sell to the world. That [will] bring in hard currency to make the little man in our country better off,” he pointed out to JIS News.
He said the initial investment from local businesses to facilitate the recommended activities, paired with existing incentives offered through the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA), plays a part in making Jamaica attractive to international investors.
For his part, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the JSEZA, Gary Scott, said that linkages established through the Authority will ensure that the local economy benefits as a result of the incentives provided to the multinational companies.
“When these multinational corporations are operating from Jamaica, they are purchasing certain goods and services from the local economy. That is why the incentive scheme that we established under the Special Economic Zone Authority removes things like general consumption tax (GCT).
“It is not because [we want] to not have zone operators pay GCT; it is to encourage purchasing more of the goods and services from the domestic territory. So, what we are ensuring is the building out of linkage programmes that will allow for the companies in the zones to interact more freely with companies outside of the zone and purchase goods and services,” explained Mr. Scott.
Meanwhile, the JSEZA CEO pointed out that post-pandemic, Jamaica has been presented with the opportunity to maximise on pharmaceutical supply chain needs, which were heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From what we have heard, there are a number of investors worldwide… that are looking for their next location to establish their ability to provide supplies and support to the largest consumer markets, which are the North American and South American markets,” Mr. Scott noted.
From June 13 to 17, Jamaica will host international investors and free zone operators at the World Free Zones Organization’s Annual International Conference and Exhibition (AICE 2022) in Montego Bay, St. James, with the aim of securing investments for the country.
JSEZA Sets Sights On Multi-Trillion-Dollar ESG Market
The Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA) is positioning Jamaica to tap into the multi-trillion-dollar Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investment market.
ESG investing refers to putting money in companies, which, through their environmental performance, social impact and governance issues, are focused on balancing people, planet and profits.
It is becoming increasingly popular as investors seek long-term value and alignment with sustainability and climate-related objectives.
According to the United States (US) Sustainable and Impact Investing Trends biennial report, the ESG market was valued at $17.1 trillion in 2020, growing exponentially throughout the pandemic to about $30 trillion.
Jamaica is signalling its readiness to enter the market through development of the ‘Sustain-a-Livity’ concept, which was presented to global investors at the recently concluded World Expo 2020 Dubai.
During the event, JSEZA hosted a Jamaica Connects Business Forum on ‘ESG Investing in Jamaica: The Sustain-a-Livity Way’.
“If you look at it from a stock exchange perspective, the companies that integrate ESG into their systems were performing better than the regular companies that didn’t. So, we were basically saying, we want in on the market,” JSEZA Senior Director for Regulations, Policy, Monitoring and Enforcement, Ainsley Brown, told JIS News.
“What we did was reframe it [ESG] into our own sustainability concept because we are not just talking it, we are living it,” he added.
Mr. Brown told JIS News that companies that implement ESG in their operations are known for value creation and risk mitigation.
On the value creation side, they experience stronger growth, greater productivity, higher return on equity and a higher credit rating. As it relates to risk mitigation, they have lower loan and credit default rates, and reduced legal and regulatory interventions.
Sustain-a-Livity is a Jamaican concept focused on harmonious living developed through awareness and expansion of workstyle, lifestyle, life-based and spiritual interests.
The concept is a critical part of the JSEZA sustainable economic development framework, which emphasises development for social progress, environmental stewardship and economic growth for all Jamaicans and generations to come.
Sustain-a-Livity is incorporated in the Authority’s operations from the review of applications to the facilitation of business, and is promoted throughout the local special economic zones that JSEZA regulates.
Mr. Brown shared that implementation of the concept is manifested in ways such as the adoption of International Organization Standardization (ISO) and other types of standards, and the creation of growth-fostering work environments.
He noted that the Sustain-a-Livity concept was well received by potential investors at World Expo 2020 Dubai.
“They are really drawn to it, and in speaking to people from other special economic zone authorities that are seeking to integrate certain sustainability concepts, they’re looking at us and saying, ‘wow, you guys are ahead of the game’ but we are just scratching the surface,” he told JIS News.
“We have not gone really deep into certain things as yet, but the fact that we even have a monitoring mechanism in place in the Sustain-a-Livity framework, which most zones do not have, is significant,” Mr. Brown added.
During the six-month World Expo 2020 Dubai from October 2021 to March 2022, which attracted over 24 million visitors from around the world, the Jamaican delegation promoted the island as a prime destination for investment in several areas including ESG.
Jamaica Cops Award At World Expo Dubai 2020
“From the beginning, Jamaica was touted as one of the outstanding pavilions in the Expo and “a must-visit” pavilion. This award confirms that those accolades were well deserved. The pavilion focused not on looking at any one element of Jamaica, but as a composite,” Ms. Gardner said
Jamaica has left World Expo Dubai 2020 with an impressive showing by exceeding its visitor target and copping one of the 51 available participant awards.
The Jamaica Pavilion, which was located in the mobility district of the World Expo grounds with around 70 other pavilions, was given the bronze award for its pavilion design, which utilised shipping containers.
With a target of hosting one per cent of total Expo visitors, Commissioner General of the Jamaica Pavilion, Essie Gardner, told JIS News that the target was not only met but exceeded, as Jamaica hosted more than 320,000 of the Expo’s over 24 million visitors.
World Expo 2020 Dubai officially came to a close on March 31, 2022 after six months of world-class experiences and bringing together people from all over the world to create, collaborate and innovate in shaping the future.
The Expo was hosted under the theme ‘Connecting Minds and Creating the Future’ and categorised countries and their participation into three main districts – sustainability, mobility and opportunity.
“From the beginning, Jamaica was touted as one of the outstanding pavilions in the Expo and “a must-visit” pavilion. This award confirms that those accolades were well deserved. The pavilion focused not on looking at any one element of Jamaica, but as a composite,” Ms. Gardner said.
“Our culture permeated the entire pavilion. Persons who came into the pavilion got a very fresh outlook on Jamaica, and that resonated with them. So, the award really gives us another fillip to celebrate the strength of our brand, so we can leverage that to increase business to the destination,” she added.
The participant awards recognised three aspects of the pavilions – architecture and landscape, exhibition design, and theme interpretation – and the judges had a pool of 200 pavilions to examine.
The award was announced and distributed during the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) Day Awards Ceremony on March 30 in the Jubilee Park on the Expo grounds.
Ms. Gardner said this nod from the World Expo overseers, the BIE, will bring further attention to Jamaica as a transhipment port and boost the country’s efforts to become the fourth global logistics hub.
The award will even attract participants to the World Free Zones Organization Conference, scheduled for June in Montego Bay, St. James, she added.
The bronze award for exhibition was the ‘icing on the cake’ for the Jamaican delegation as the Green Isle of the Indies proved to be little but ‘tallawah’ in attracting Expo visitors to the Jamaica Pavilion.
Besides giving Blue Mountain Coffee samples in a culture that loves coffee, Ms. Gardner said there were some other aspects of the pavilion that set Jamaica apart and attracted visitors.
“One of the things that kept getting rave commentary was the fact that our team engaged the people who visited the pavilion. It wasn’t a matter of coming in looking at things and leaving, we engaged persons. We spoke to people, they saw us as authentic Jamaicans and that we wanted to share our love of country with them, so that was also a pull,” Ms. Gardner said.
“We also had gift items that we offered everyone, and the media visibility which we have been getting also brought us to the attention of the public, and so they wanted to see what all the commentary was about,” she noted.
From October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, visitors were able to experience the culture, cuisine and music of Jamaica while learning about the history, contribution to sports, tourism and business opportunities that reside in the island.
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