The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s largest business organization, said Northern Luzon will attract more business expansion and new investment if the government moves to shift traffic of container cargoes from the congested Manila ports to the Subic Bay Freeport.
Alfredo Yao, PCCI president, said in a press statement Thursday that movements of freight have an impact on economic development in the regions.
“Efficient movement unleashes a lot of business projects in provinces,” Yao said.
Regions in Luzon outside Metro Manila account for about 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), Yao pointed out.
PCCI member-chambers Metro Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Clark Investors and Locators Association, and the Export Processing Zone Chamber of Exporters and Manufacturers recommended a mandatory limit on container traffic in Manila’s ports, and the use of the Subic Freeport by international shipping lines.
The recommendations were presented to Yao by Francisco L. Villanueva, Jr., president of the Metro Angeles Chamber; Jeannie del Rosario-Ng, president of the Clark Investors and Locators Association and Eduardo B. Joson, president of the Export Processing Zone Chamber.
Yao said a critical measure is to put a cap or ceiling on the volume of containers handled by Manila ports and shift the excess traffic of containers to the Subic Bay Freeport.
“Subic, a world-class international gateway, uses only six per cent of its capacity because cargoes do not go there,” said Yao. “It is time for the Philippine Ports Authority to look seriously at recommendations for a mandatory cap. The ports in Manila, now at about 120 percent, have long overstretched their capacity.”
Yao met with presidents and delegates of PCCI member-chambers in north Luzon during the North Luzon Business Conference last month in Baguio City.
According to the member-chambers, the shift of cargoes to Subic will benefit not only business communities in Luzon outside Metro Manila but also the port users.
Trucking costs have shot up to about P50,000 per trip from P18,000 per trip in the first quarter, Yao said, due to delays caused by Manila’s heavy congestion. The shift will also remove uncertainties about the reliability of port users as part of the production and distribution links of global supply chains, Yao added.
Thus, the chambers are confident that the mandatory cap will make growth of future earnings of port users sustainable, he said.
The proposals of the member-chambers will be discussed by the PCCI with the national government for action. Partnership between government and the private sector on logistics and transportation development will also be a face-to-face conversation topic between Cabinet officials and business executives during the 40th Philippine Business Conference, scheduled for October 22 to 24.