The Business Year

Ewald T.H. Heinsen B.

President, E.T. Heinsen

Alexander N. Schad

Vice-President, SCHAD

What are the opportunities for the Dominican Republic to become a regional shipping hub? EWALD TH. HEINSEN B. The Dominican Republic is already a shipping hub for two companies: Hapag […]

What are the opportunities for the Dominican Republic to become a regional shipping hub?

EWALD TH. HEINSEN B. The Dominican Republic is already a shipping hub for two companies: Hapag Lloyd and Mediterranean Shipping. The question is whether or not it will remain a hub once the Panama Canal reopens. There is considerable competition in the Caribbean from Panama and Cartagena, which are investing constantly in these locations. There is also a new port in Kingston, as well as Puerto Moin in Costa Rica. It is effectively building a super-port from nothing that will compete with Panama. There is even the prospect of a Chinese canal in Nicaragua, where the government there has already approved the deal. China is becoming a maritime-focused nation, both militarily and commercially. It relies heavily on logistics and on the Panama Canal, and is growing as a sea power.

ALEXANDER N. SCHAD We consider Caucedo to be a strategic location for some of our customers, but not necessarily for all. One of the reasons why the Dominican Republic would make an efficient hub is that a key consideration for companies using a hub is a large local base. If you are on an island that has no local consumption, where all goods enter only to leave again, it does not make for a particularly attractive proposition as a hub. It is much more attractive where, despite the same entry and exit of goods, you also have a large local consumer market of 10 million people to serve. In that manner, inventory is in close proximity to a large consumer market. And from there, can be transferred to the local market, free zones, or else re-exported.

What does the future hold for Haina Port and the country’s other transport hubs?

ETH Most of the cargo to and from the Dominican Republic comes from the US. Haina has specialized in niche operators from Miami. These smaller operators see no benefit in using Caucedo and are happy to deal with Haina. The port is faster for them and focused on their needs more than on than the larger shipping lines. Haina will remain the largest bulk cargo port of the island for shipments such as wood and coal. Products ranging from gasoline to chicken-feed come through Haina. This traffic will not move to Caucedo because that port is exclusively geared toward moving containers. Each port tends to specialize in its own type of business.

How do you think the vision to further develop national infrastructure together with the widening of the Panama Canal will impact the Dominican logistics industry?

ANS I think that we have an extraordinary opportunity to develop the country. The 10-year Dominican National Strategic Development Plan includes the necessary steps to transform the Dominican Republic into a regional hub for the Caribbean. We have been after it for more than five years, and it is what Dubai wants to do in Caucedo with the Logistics Centre. There are many facets and activities that need to come together in the private and public sectors for it to become a reality. And if it does, it will also be hugely beneficial for the local market because the trade routes will increase frequencies and volumes, and prices will decline. Creating a hub is a strategic necessity for the country not only because of the employment and revenues it would generate, but also because it would make us much more competitive as a country. We are geographically in a perfect location if you consider the North-South trade routes between the US and the East Coast of South America. Furthermore, Asia can connect with the East Coast of the US or Europe thanks to the Panama Canal, and we are located on these routes.

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