The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said that the country’s fisheries industry suffers from “inadequate quality fisheries infrastructure and cold chain” facilities, which limits its competitiveness in the Southeast Asian region.
In its featured publication “Philippine fisheries trade with Asean: chokepoints to AEC 2015,” PIDS research fellow Danilo Israel listed the chokepoints in the competitiveness of the Philippine fisheries sector when compared to counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries, in line with the Asean Economic Community (AEC) by 2015.
“Results of the recent study [Briones and Israel 2013] indicated that domestic cold chain and warehousing and specialized storage facilities, in particular, are among the most important fisheries services but whose present provision remains unsatisfactory and needs improvement,” Israel said.
“The problem is critical to exporters of frozen fish who need adequate freezing and warehousing, and specialized storage facilities to maintain the high quality of their exported products,” he said.
Other than quality infra and cold chain facilities, Israel enumerated other chokepoints such as internal transport and logistics, import or export clearances, certification and permit processes, transparency and awareness of regulations, and nontariff measures.
The PIDS research fellow urged the addressing of the chokepoints, since this will increase the “Philippines’ chances of success to the upcoming AEC,” particularly for its fisheries sector.
“While the fish trade between the Philippines and other Asean countries is low at present, there is hope that if and when the AEC materializes, the situation could significantly improve,” Israel said.
“Aside from addressing the mentioned chokepoints, an important step that the government and fisheries associations can do together is to aggressively inform and educate fish traders about the AEC in general, and specifically on how it is likely to affect their individual businesses,” he added.
Data from the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics that cited in the publication showed the Philippines traded a total of $50 million in Asean by 2012—$37-million total exports and $12.1-million imports—which was higher than 2011’s $32 million. Israel noted that the country’s trade to Asean countries remained a small portion compared to worldwide trading.
Worldwide trade, on the other hand, showed that the Philippines in 2012 accounted $1 billion, which was higher than the previous year’s $820.4 million, with a breakdown of $811-million exports and $233-million imports.