Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 13th 2013 Contents JUNE 2013 • WEEK TWO www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COVER STORY | BG5
education," he said. Cohen said one of his major concerns
is the militarisation of US society. He said: "The US spends
half of its discretionary budget on the military, preparing to
kill people. You know, it s absurd. The US spends US$700
billion a year on that, and for about US$50 billion a year, you
can feed all the people who are hungry in the world."
"I ve been saying it would make the world a lot safer place
if people weren t hungry. You can do those things. You can
do everything for US$50 billion a year. What percentage is
that of our Pentagon budget?" he asked rhetorically.
You can do it
"What we demonstrated was that you can do it. You have
two choices when you go into business. You can just run a
traditional business that only has a one-part bottom line, that
is only there to maximise profits for the owners, or you can
do one that has a two-part bottom line that makes a bunch
of profits and helps to improve the quality of life of the com-
munity. We like the second."
Cohen said the decision to operate with a two-part bottom
line was "very controversial" at the start. He said: "It was
controversial within our own company, at the board of directors
level. We were criticised by the major business schools around
the country. They would invite us to come and speak. We
would tell them about it, and they would tell us, you know,
we were stupid."
Still, he said they remained unfazed and undaunted.
"We just continued to do it and continued to demonstrate
that we were very profitable. We spent a lot less money on
advertising and public relations. Companies traditionally hire
and manage advertising agencies and public relations to essen-
tially make up a nice story about the company so that people
feel good about the company, and buy their products. Instead,
we decided to use our money to actually do good things for
the community and people really got to like us a lot."
Cohen said: "It s just a spiritual law. It s the way the world
works. It s written in the Bible. As you give, you receive. As
you help others, others help you. As your business supports
the community, the community supports your business. It s
just the same. I actually think it s true for nations as well."
He said although not all the franchised stores are on board
with the philosophy as part of the sales agreement with
Unilever, an independent Ben & Jerry s board of directors was
established. They have responsibility and authority over the
social mission of the company. Of the five main tabs on the
Ben & Jerry s Ice-Cream Web site, the third is "Activism,"
standing out from among the usual "Company, Flavours, Scoop
The ice-cream industry
Asked where he sees the ice-cream market heading, and
what would be the future of the industry, Cohen said he
thinks "super premium ice-cream companies like Ben &
Jerry s" will dominate.
"Essentially, globally, the two superior ice-cream companies
are Haagen Dazs, which is owned by Nestlé, and Ben &
Jerry s which is owned by Unilver, and these two goliaths
duke it out with each other around the world. What it s
created is what people call a price umbrella, so this very
expensive ice-cream has created a high price that people
will pay for ice-cream, and I think that allows small, local,
high quality ice-cream makers to go into business. I think
what we re seeing in the US is a proliferation of small, local,
high quality ice-cream makers that are now able to compete
because they re able to sell at a high amount of money.
"The other thing that has happened, of course, is because
of that price umbrella, low quality ice-creams have increased
their prices. It s kind of like what happened to Starbucks
The Panamanian government has embarked on a US$5.25
billion expansion of the Panama Canal.
Originally due to be completed in 2014, the expansion
should now be completed by 2015.
The project calls for the extensive dredging works and
dry excavation of nearly 50 million cubic metres of material,
of which 42 million has already been excavated.
The new channel will be built alongside the old one,
therefore more than doubling the traffic capacity of the
Canal. Additionally, the new channel will be able to handle
To understand what this means, let us take a look at the
relative sizes of the old Panama Canal locks and new locks
that will be built for the expansion. The new locks will
handle vessels with a maximum LOA of 366 metres, beam
of 49 metres, and draft of 15.2 metres. This is a significant
increase in vessel size and thus a significant decrease in
freight costs to get toods to mrket through the Panama
The implications of the Panama Canal expansion for
trade in Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd s (PPGPL) markets
are numerous. PPGPL s main competitor for market share
in the Caribbean and Central American region is the United
States Gulf Coast.
With large volumes of natural gas liquids (NGLs) being
produced in the US from shale deposits, there is an expanding
surge of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) exports (particularly
propane) into the market. So far, the majority of these vol-
umes have gone to Latin America and to Europe, but the
expansion of the Canal could change that.
Major US exporters are undergoing large expansions, with
a strategic focus on capturing the markets in the Far East
that will now be accessible via large ships. Cargoes that
would have taken more than 40 days to reach Japan and
China will now take approximately 25 days through the
Canal, enabling the US Gulf Coast exporters to compete
more effectively with North Sea and Middle East exporters.
As the US eyes these large ship markets with potentially
lucratikve netbacks, one may very well find that there is
a shortage of small cargoes available for the Caribbean and
Central American countries.
This leaves a niche market for PPGPL, as the company
has built its business around the supply of its neighbouring
markets with small cargoes of LPG. Scarcity of small cargoes
will enable PPGPL to benefit as it can attract higher pre-
With the majority of LNG carriers being too large to
access the current Panama Canal locks, there is an even
greater effect of the expansion on LNG trade. Again, the
US stands to gain if the forecasted US LNG export industry
comes to fruition.
As a consequence, T&T will immediately benefit as the
journey to the Far East markets will be practically halved.
T&T s LNG exports will become even more competitive in
those markets that could result in a huge benefit to the
In summary, the expansion of the Panama Canal will
open up the large vessel LNG and LPG trade for exporters
like T&T on the Atlantic side to supply the Far East-con-
suming nations, like Japan and China.
It is an opportunity that the US is certainly preparing
for, and we would be wise to do the same.
Matik Nicholls, vice-president, marketing
Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd
Phoenix Hub newsletter (January-March 2013)
The impact of Panama
Canal on PPGPL
Continued from page 4
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar engages the attention of Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben and Jerry's ice-cream brand, at
Monday's opening of the Caribbean Investment Forum, Hilton Trinidad, St Ann's.
PHOTO: BRIAN NG FATT
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