Do you see opportunities for expansion in the region for the activities of your company?
JEFFREY RANNIK In the coming years, we expect other projects to be developed in the country to support the needs of the cruise industry. As far as cargo is concerned, there is always a need as the economy grows to expand the existing ports; as those reach their maximum capacity, maybe in the next 10 years, I would not be surprised to see other projects arise. We expect an increase in activity on the industrial side and in the energy sector. Furthermore, the expansion of the Panama Canal will be underway. As soon as we get larger ships coming into the Caribbean basin, there will be a demand for more port capacity.
TEDDY HEINSEN We will have to expand in Caucedo. We are dredging up to 15 meters, building another 400-meter pier, and installing an additional 4-5 cranes, which comprises Phase III of Caucedo. We will take the port up to the capacity of about 2.5 million TEUs. The current volume is 1 million TEUs, so we will more than double our handling capacity. Through this, we will attract larger ships that are headed for the Panama Canal. Those who choose not to expand are committing commercial suicide. If we intend to remain a hub, we have to update the port and take care of everything; the widening of the Panama Canal will allow ships carrying 12,600 TEUs to pass through, and we must be prepared.
What has been B&R Group's commitment to the development of the port industry in the Dominican Republic?
JTR We embarked on a number of projects to improve the port infrastructure in the Dominican Republic. One of these projects was the development of the Port of Caucedo. Our group was one of the original promoters of the Port of Caucedo, and in collaboration with a local investor group in the private sector we partnered with what is now DP World, our 50% partner and operator of the port. We are also partnered with our colleagues in the shipping community for the operation of Port Haina. In exchange for an investment commitment over a 30-year period, the local partners put together an investment plan for Port Haina and assisted in organizing port security and infrastructure for the sustained development of that port. More recently, B&R signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in June 2011 with Carnival Corporation for the development of a cruise terminal on the north coast of the Dominican Republic in a bay called Bahía de Maimón, which is in the province of Puerto Plata. The development of this port is a joint venture that is being led by Carnival Corporation directly with our local team.
How competitive is the Dominican Republic compared to other countries in the region?
TH The country is very competitive, so much so that one of our ports, Caucedo, is currently being utilized at almost 95% capacity per year. That means that the port is doing very well and is also very competitive. We have to compete with ports that have enjoyed much greater investments than those made in Caucedo. Our competitors include Kingston, Panama City, Cartagena, and Freeport, which are internationally recognized ports.
What are the challenges facing the cruise industry at the moment?
JTR The cruise industry needs to develop new destinations, with many repeat customers who do not always want to go to the same ports. At the same time, there is a need in the industry at large to develop new ports and terminals, many of which have certain limitations with respect to water depth and size of the ships that can be handled.
What added value does E.T. Heinsen offer as a shipping agent?
TH We are mainly container operators that represent three principle shipping lines. One of them has a hub here. The other is a specialist in container traffic from the Far East to the Dominican Republic, and the third is an operator from the Mediterranean, carrying heavy lifts and so on. We carry all the metro and big carts from Spain. I think our primary asset is our people and the education we offer them, because we provide everything so that they are able to serve our representation and meet the needs of our clients. Employing qualified, well-trained people is probably our best asset.