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Secure Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Status

The Special Economic Zone Act (SEZ Act) provides for the designation, promotion, development, operation and management of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), the establishment of a Special Economic Zone Authority, and the granting of tax incentives and other benefits.

As established, the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA) is the arm of the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) responsible for facilitating the development, promotion and regulation of special economic zones.

The SEZ Act was enacted in 2016, effectively repealing the Jamaica Export Free Zone Act. Under the Act the JSEZA is mandated to perform specific functions that are among other things, intended to enhance the Jamaican economy by increasing investment and creating job opportunities. These functions include:

  • Promote measures, actions and investments aimed at improving the logistics chains of which zones are a part;
  • Foster the development and expansion of the Zones in collaboration with the Government, international organisations and the private sector;
  • Protect the environment in the course of the development and operation of Zones;
  • Enable persons conducting business in the Zones to compete effectively in the conduct of their businesses;
  • Promote technical and operational education and training in the fields of Zone development, promotion, operation and management.

For more information on securing SEZ status, see our business process guideline below.

How to Secure SEZ Status

The Process
Process Quick Tips

  1. Types of Agreements:
  • A Master Concession is an agreement between the JSEZA and a Developer to establish or manage an SEZ on lands that have been vested in the Authority.
  • A Licence-Agreement exists between the JSEZA and a Developer to establish or manage an SEZ on lands that are not vested in the SEZ Authority. In this case the Developer may be a private land holder or a Government entity.
  • A Sub-Concession is an agreement between an SEZ Developer and an Occupant to allow an Occupant to enter into an SEZ and conduct its business activities.

  1. A Single-Entity Zone is a Developer approved to operate from an approved SEZ business from a location that is only occupied by the applicant. Specialised Zones that is, Zones limited to specific economic activities, such as maritime or aviation related Zones (which may include dry docks, bunkering facilities, aircraft maintenance and repair, or tank farms). These types of SEZs will only be approved by the Authority in the public interest.

  1. SEZ Incentives:
  • Benefits for companies operating in the special economic zone regime are outlined below.
  • Developers and occupants in SEZs pay CIT at a rate of 12.5%. With tax credits and exemption policies, such as those for employment and R&D and training, they could enjoy CIT at a rate of 7.75%;
  • Duty-free importation of capital goods, consumer goods, raw materials or articles for use in connection with the approved product;
  • All raw material and products imported to SEZs by the developers and occupants in SEZs could be exempted from tariff and GCT according to specifications;
  • 50% relief on Stamp Duty;
  • SEZ companies are exempt from GCT incurred on goods and services purchased locally for use in the zone including electricity and telecommunication;
  • Custom clearance procedures are streamlined;

  1. The Minister in charge of Special Economic Zones (The Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Economic Growth and Job Creation) shall, on recommendation by the Authority, and in consultation with the Minister of Finance declare, by notice in the Gazette, any area as a SEZ. The declaration will define the limits, rules and regulations of the zone and will remain in force until revoked by an order in the Gazette by the Minister and on recommendation by the Authority.

  1. Within the SEZ law there is a transitional mechanism in place designed to facilitate existing Free Zone companies (Part IX SEZ Act 2016). The major feature of this mechanism is that existing Free Zone companies will have a transitional period in which to regularise themselves and transition to full SEZ status, in compliance with the SEZ law. If you are a current Free Zone holder and registered with the SEZ Authority, your benefits automatically continue until the end of the transition period, December 31, 2019.

  1. SEZ Companies can have access to sell in the domestic market. This is one of the distinguishing features of the SEZ regime. Goods produced may access the domestic market provided companies pay the requisite import duties and are in possession of the necessary permits/licenses.

For more information about securing SEZ Status, visit the JSEZA website