SEZs represent a wide variety of geographically demarcated areas that offer simple and efficient business regulations and procedures to investors.
As stated in the Green Paper, which was laid in the House of Representatives yesterday (January 13), SEZs will replace free zones and will be promoted and facilitated as a strategy to attract and retain targeted investments and sustain economic activity across various sectors of the Jamaican economy.
Mr. Hylton informed that the document includes labour market reform initiatives aimed at removing the previous perception of the free zone as a “sweat shop”.
“The labour practices to be adopted in the SEZs will entice job seekers to aspire to be part of a new industry that challenge their creative intellect, while guaranteeing a world class quality of life,” he said.
Mr. Hylton noted that the intention to develop a new SEZ regime ensures conformity with the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) rules for middle-income countries such as Jamaica.
He said that the existing free zone regime stipulates rigid eligibility requirements in terms of qualifying activities and requires that 85 per cent of manufactured goods have to be exported.
“The new SEZ regime seeks not only to bring the country into compliance with the WTO Agreement on (Export) Subsidies and Countervailing Measures by 2015 and thereby minimise the potential for challenges from other WTO members, but to allow a seamless interface with the domestic suppliers, and grow business-to-business linkages that would serve to grow domestic businesses to access new markets,” Mr. Hylton said.
He noted that the creation of SEZs is also influenced by global competitive forces that demand Government intervention to ensure full private sector participation, both indigenous and foreign.
“We do not have the luxury of time in the highly competitive global marketplace; neither can we afford delays and complacency. This is why we view the SEZ regime as a deliberate policy tool for advancing the growth and maturity of the Jamaican private sector through exposure to more business opportunities locally and internationally,”
Mr. Hylton said.
The Industry Minister noted that efforts will be made to ensure that large businesses and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) capitalize on business opportunities within the SEZ.
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