What is the significance of the logistics center with one-stop shopping services you are currently developing, and what are the prospects for this initiative?
The Caucedo Logistics Center has actually been a part of our business plan from the outset. We have now been operating for 11 years and there have been many phases of development of the port, although this marks the next major step in its growth. The idea of building the logistics center is to attract greater volume into the Dominican Republic, which will help to grow the local economy and create jobs. Today we employ around 1,000 people in the port, but at the logistics center, there is the potential for huge growth in the economy and in employment. We have an area of land of about 40 hectares currently being developed. We have the option to develop a further 80 hectares making a total of 120 hectares. We see this as an opportunity to develop growth and further promote the Dominican Republic as a cargo hub. We have been highly successful over the past 11 years, having started out with a port that basically only handled local cargo, which we have transformed into a hub. Today there is roughly a 50:50 split between transshipment and local cargo. In 2015 we expect to grow volumes even further, which will facilitate international commerce.
How do you evaluate Caucedo's performance in 2014 and its contribution to the local economy?
We are a key point in the local economy. On a national basis, about 60% of the cargo going in and out of the country comes through here. In the captive market, we handle about 64.5% of the cargo. This is also able to attract international businesses on the strength of our sizable port. In terms of performance, we are in the top tier and we can offer world-class infrastructure with the same capacities you would find in the US, Europe and Asia. We have automated certain functions to expedite business with Caucedo, and to migrate away from manual and paper-based work to the online environment, all to make it easier for our customers to do business with us, and the Dominican Republic more competitive.
What is the significance of the partnership with DP World, one of the largest maritime terminal operators in the world?
I consider ours a good combination. DP World operates more than 60 ports around the world and we bring the knowhow on operating the port, while it is also a challenge for a global company to enter and manage 60 different local cultures or environments. As a result, having a local partner is extremely important. We contribute equally to the partnership and success of Caucedo.
What role does security play at Caucedo?
We now hold all possible certifications. Security in this region is an important topic, and we are all unfortunately challenged by a certain trade in illegal commodities, which we actively seek to prevent. We enjoy close cooperation with the local authorities and US authorities, with both being present at the port, and we are, again, fully certified. One difference here is that we are part of the container security initiative. We are the only Port in the Dominican Republic to have a scanner to check cargo for contraband and illegal commodities, and are looking to enhance our scanning capabilities to the point where the latest technology allows us to penetrate the entire container to identify suspicious materials. Early in 2015 we will have in place one of the most efficient and modern scanners available on the market today, increasing the number of scanners in Caucedo to two.
What other plans are set for 2015?
The key considerations for us are developing the Port Community System, continuing to grow our Cacuedo Logistic Center, and further preparing the Port for the opening of the Panama Canal. In 2015 we will deepen the current draft of the port from 13.5m to 15m, which will enable the port to the receive larger vessels once the Panama Canal expansion is completed. On smaller projects, we seek ways to reduce our CO2 footprint and save energy.