UNDER the Port Infrastructure Development Plan, the ports of Davao, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos and Zamboanga and the Iloilo Container Port Complex are the five priority ports up for modernization, according to the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).
“We are developing these ports as these handle majority of our import and export products not only within Asean but also worldwide,” PPA General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago said prior to the Philippines’ hosting of the 42nd Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Ports Association (APA) on November 15 to 16, 2016.
The development plan was the focus of the Philippine presentation during the event that was attended by the nine-member countries of APA that includes Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Santiago said the APA meeting was “a great avenue for the Philippines to assure our Asean neighbors and the world that we are doing beyond what is needed for us to properly respond to the demands of the global supply chain market.”
Each member country was the required to present a paper that will serve as the springboard for future development and cooperation among member countries. APA was formed in 1974 as an alliance of port authorities in the Asean “to serve as the proper forum for the achievement of the following broad objectives: exchange of information, harmonization of trade practices and promotion/facilitation of trade among Asean ports.”
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, about 60 percent of the world’s sea-based trade–which Unctad said exceeded 10 billion tons in 2015, the first time it did in a single year–passed through Asia and Southeast Asia, particularly its big archipelagos. The continent and the region should be able to capitalize on this trade volume as trade further expands, the Nikkei Asian Review said.
Total trade between Asean nations rose by nearly 50 percent between 2004 and 2014, according to Simon Roughneen, Nikkei Asian Review Asian regional correspondent. A continued rise in trade figures in the region would demand further development of ports to serve the demand. And because the Philippines is one of the two largest archipelagic nations in the region (the other being Indonesia), it should push for modernization and development of the country’s ports as trade barriers continue to break down as a result of the signing of more trade agreements among countries.
Fauziah Zen, an economist with the Economic Research Institute for Asean and Southeast Asia, said “the largest archipelagic countries in the world are not being optimized.” And with the expected further booming of global trade, as Southeast Asia is seen to continue a spike in trade growth, the government’s Ports Infrastructure Development Plan is what the doctor ordered for the Philippines.
Port of Manila
The Port of Manila remains the most important international gateway in the country. Just a few years ago, concerns were being raised regarding congestion in the Philippines’ premier port. Things have improved since.
“The efficient movement of cargoes coming in and out of the port area since the implementation of the Terminal Appointment Booking System (TABS) and other decongestion measures are key factors in the progressive operations at our Manila ports,” Santiago said.
According to the PPA, the Manila port’s performance in productivity indicates no sign of congestion problems, with combined yard utilization of 57 percent, berth occupancy rate of 57 percent and quay crane productivity of 26 moves an hour per crane.
With continuously robust trade performance, the PPA has revisited its cargo volume forecast for 2017 after posting favorable and encouraging cargo volume in the first five months of the year. Negative effects of several conditions were anticipated at the beginning of the year that fortunately did not materialize. Among these factors were the deteriorating foreign exchange rate and the decrease in mining industry operations.
“The continued robust port operations are mainly attributed to the sustained robust economic activity in our ports amplified by strong domestic consumption and generally positive business atmosphere,” Santiago explained.
“The efficient movement of cargoes coming in and out of the port area since the implementation of the [TABS] and other decongestion measures are key factors in the progressive operations at our Manila port,” Santiago added.
Cargo data showed total volume as of end May growing by 9.36 percent or 103.556 million metric tons compared to 94.692 mmt handled in the same period last year.
Domestic cargoes went up by 9.27 percent or 3.583 mmt, with 42.251 mmt registered this period against last year’s 38.669 mmt. The growth is indicated by the rise in quantity of trade transactions that flowed in and out of the ports and driven by the high dependence on water-borne transport for the shipment of commodities within the country. Foreign cargo throughput also posted a 9.43 percent increase from 56.023 mmt in 2016 to 61.304 mmt this year.
Container traffic notably progressed to 2.911 million TEUs this year, which is 13.71 percent higher than the 2.560 million TEUs handled in the same period in 2016. Foreign container volume contributed most in the recorded improvement of 12.73 percent (195,056 TEUs) while domestic containers recorded 15.17 percent (156,056 TEUs).
Passenger traffic meanwhile, sustained its upward performance albeit minimal with 2.60 percent (832,311) as of end of May. Ship calls vaguely fell by 0.58 percent (1,064) with domestic vessels recording most of the posted decrease. The reduced vessel traffic arose from successive cancellation of trips, mostly of motorized bancas and fast crafts because of the impact of a strong southwest monsoon, strong undercurrent water condition, gale warnings by the Philippine Coast Guard and routine maintenance of passenger vessels, which limited the number of trips.
Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI) early this month reported a net income of P1.9 billion for the first half of the year. ATI operates the Manila South Harbor, the modern Port of Batangas, the Port of General Santos and off-dock container yards in Santa Mesa, Manila and Calamba City, Laguna, which serve as major marine transport infrastructure and economic trade gateways for the country.
This growth of international containerized cargoes handled by the company’s Manila South Harbor and Batangas Port recorded a 16.8 percent increase from P1.2 billion a year earlier. This reflects the growth pace of the Philippine economy, boosting the first semester results of the Philippine Stock Exchange-listed port operator.
Manila South Harbor handled just short of 550,000 TEUs (20 foot equivalent units) from January to June, sustaining a strong performance coming off a record-breaking year in 2016, when for the first time it handled over one million TEUs. BCT handled over 93,000 TEUs by mid-year, keeping it on pace of exceeding its 2016 record volume of nearly 160,000 TEUs, and thus stepping up its role as trade facilitator in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), offering competitive market connectivity to major shippers and effectively decongesting Manila’sroads.
Despite the growing volume, however, any concerns about capacity are brushed aside because, according to ATI Executive Vice President Andrew Hoad, “Our international container ports in Manila and Batangas are performing optimum production and utilization levels” heading to the busier months. “We have capacity for future volume growth,” Hoad said.
ATI terminals handle containerized and non-containerized cargoes, bulk and break-bulk cargoes, roll-on/roll-off shipment and passengers–comprehensive service offerings thatcome second to none in the Philippine port industry. ATI expertise is firmly anchored on its three decades of proven industry track record and its hardworking personnel with local and global experience.