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PANAMA - Transport

Jared Zerbe

CEO, Hutchison Ports PPC

Bio

Before coming to Panama as the CEO of Hutchison Ports PPC, Jared H. Zerbe was the CEO for Tanzania International Container Terminal Services Limited. He has worked in a number of senior commercial roles and legal roles, and he is licensed as a solicitor in England and Wales. With a JD from Boston University, he is a licensed attorney in the US. Zerbe also has a master’s in international corporate management from the University of Pittsburgh and studied law in the UK, obtaining his qualified foreign lawyer certificates at BPPE in London.

"The Panama Canal draft restrictions are down to about 12 currently, though many main shipping routes that were going through the canal are unable to pass because of low water levels."

Jared Zerbe, CEO of Hutchison Ports PPC, talks to TBY about Balboa Port, CSR initiatives, and more.

What advantages and challenges has Hutchinson faced as one of the first global port operators?

Hutchinson is one of the world’s largest port operators. Originally, Hutchinson was the first port operator to decide on a global expansion approach in the 1990s. Accordingly, it has taken on a long-term global operator approach for past 30-plus years, working to develop synergies between all its global terminals. It was the first to develop a global operating system for its terminals, and companies such as DP World, PSA, APM, the Maersk Terminal Division, MSC, and TIO later followed suit to become global operators. Hutchinson has always had that global perspective and was the pioneer here; however, the downside of this is that our assets are among the oldest, and that requires significant investments in many of our terminals. Still, we have many upcoming concessions, and there are always positives and negatives with most things. Furthermore, being in a transshipment hub such as Panama has boosted our links with the global network as well as our global perspective and relationships with global shipping lines.

What competitive advantage does Balboa Port gain from its rail connectivity within the terminals?

The Panama Canal draft restrictions are down to about 12 currently, though many main shipping routes that were going through the canal are unable to pass because of low water levels. As a result, Balboa Port has received more requests for ad-hoc or one-off calls than ever before. The port has five berths and typically has customers like Maersk and others with fixed timeframes for their vessels. However, we also strive to be flexible and handle ad-hoc calls. At the moment, everyone is requesting for special calls to drop their cargo in Balboa Port and ship them via rail or road to the Atlantic side since vessels cannot pass through the Canal. Yet, we cannot always accommodate them all. The current water issues have amplified the importance of the rail and our two ports being the only ones with rail access within the ports and terminals. Having such flexibility is a significant competitive advantage, especially during periods with draft restrictions, when the Canal is not able to accommodate large vessels that it typically can.

What have been Hutchison’s key CSR projects from this past year?

In the past year, from an ESG or CSR perspective, we have mostly been focused on initiatives involving children and sports for 2022. We had sponsored events for girls’ football and were heavily involved in the project in various aspects. Hutchison also sponsored two different youth baseball leagues. We always focus on activities in areas that are perhaps more socially vulnerable or challenging around the ports. This is also in line with our global approach. We have a global Dock School program that supports schools and activities near our ports. In Panama, we have done more than usual compared to our terminals elsewhere. For example, we sponsor dining halls for children around the ports where we provide lunch and also activities every day. For example, we have engineers or members of our operations team come to the dining hall and talk about their jobs, inspire the children, and be a positive role model. Now, we are also working on bringing the children in the program to the modern art museum. We previously brought them the Van Gogh Exhibit, and I personally went with them. We want to encourage them to explore new and different activities and expand their horizons. Of the 100 or so kids, some might even become artists in the future. We want them to know that there are also other options other than working at the port, for example. In terms of the environment, we measure our CO2 emissions via devices around the port as well as our diesel and electricity consumption. Hutchison has regional group targets as well as individual business targets. However, overall from a group perspective, we seek to reduce our emissions by a certain amount per year, and we track all this consistently every month. We have regular reports on our dashboards and KPIs from a weekly and monthly business unit perspective to track our performance and review them in our meetings. We are also moving toward the electrification of most of our equipment. The group has committed to no more diesel-powered trucks by 2024 as well. We have been switching to LED lighting throughout the terminal for some time now, which reduces electricity consumption. Our target is to reduce our diesel consumption by 30% and carbon emissions by 20% by 2030.

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