Green Special Economic Zones

A few months back the UN Conference on Trade and Economic Development (UNCTAD) asked if I could help them examine the potential for "green" special economic zones (SEZ) in Jamaica. Given the island's strategic location, economic size, and abundance of renewable energy resources, it is ideal for fostering investment with sustainability at its core.

Kingston Freeport Harbor (Photo Credit: Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority)

SEZs are, as the name implies, special. Tax treatment and other financial incentives go a long way toward attracting substantive investment from foreign companies. The Dominican Republic's Zonas Francas, for example, have provided increased jobs and economic growth in various parts of the country. In markets where environmentally sustainable practices are rewarded, companies are motivated to invest.

Jamaica has a long history with SEZs. Some thrived while others tailed off with changes in markets, supply chains, and manufacturing needs. Old laws remain on the books and new ones can be difficult to pass. With regard to electricity, protective measures such as those maintaining the sole utility's control of electricity distribution remain an impediment to more flexible solutions. However, those measures are in place for a reason and simply removing them can have disastrous effects elsewhere in the economy. Sadly, there is no easy fix.

But there are fixes that can be implemented, and you can read all about them here.