The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is confident that ports controlled by PPA are ready to accept increased cargo volume brought about by the lifting of the Cabotage Law, the agency said on Monday.
“They have been improving the capacity and capability of the Philippine ports in anticipation of the implementation of the Asean Economic Community at the start of next year, and those measures somehow help the state-owned agency adjust easily to the amendments in the Cabotage Law,” General Manager Juan Sta. Ana said.
“Philippine ports were ready even prior to the signing of the law relaxing the country’s Cabotage Law,” Sta. Ana added.
“The major gateways have long been capable of handling bigger ships and our secondary gateways are being improved to handle international vessels,” he added.
Currently, there are 10 major Philippine gateways where foreign-flag ships dock, namely, Manila International Container Terminal, the Manila South Harbor, and the Manila North Port in Manila; Batangas Port, Port of Davao; Makar Wharf in General Santos; Iloilo Port; Zamboanga; Ozamiz; and Cagayan de Oro. Other Government ports where ships call
include Cebu and Subic Bay.
These ports handle about 90 percent of the total cargo movement in and out of the Philippines, with the bulk of that passing through the Manila ports.
Philippine cargo volume posted a modest increase in the first four months of the year, anchored on strong foreign container cargo movements, specifically exports, and healthier domestic cargo volume.
According to PPA data, total volume reached 66.60 million metric tons (mmt), higher by 6.34 percent from 62.63 mmt posted in the same period of 2014. Domestic cargoes registered a 6.87-percent hike to 27.75 mmt from only 25.97 mmt in the January to April 2014 period.
Foreign cargo volume inched up 5.97 percent to 38.85 mmt from 36.66 mmt a year ago. Import volume rose 7.69 percent to 22.21 mmt from 20.63 mmt in 2014 while export volume increased 3.75 percent to 16.63 mmt compared to the 16.03 mmt posted in 2014.
Substantial increases were observed in the ports of Cotabato, Surigao, and Agusan, all secondary international gateways, posting growth at 436.26 percent, 75.63 percent, and 55.15 percent, respectively, due to the increase in the volume of domestic cargoes.
The North Harbor is the top individual performer in terms of cargo volume with a share of 8.19 mmt of the total cargo volume nationwide, followed by Batangas with 7.79 mmt, Bataan/Aurora with 6.15 mmt, and Davao handling 4.14 mmt.
Private ports handled 41.21 mmt or 57.38 percent of the total cargo volume nationwide, while government ports accounted for 25.39 mmt or 42.62 percent.
Containerized cargoes, meanwhile, jumped 9.45 percent for the January-April 2015 period from 1.73 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2014 to 1.90 million TEUs.
Foreign containerized volume posted a 10.6-percent increase from 1.03 million TEUs to 1.14 million TEUs for the period in review. Import boxes registered a 5.56-percent hike to 554,849 TEUs from 525,626 TEUs while export boxes posted the highest growth with a 15.78-percent hike from 510,798 TEUs in 2014 to 591,410 TEUs for the period.
Domestic boxes, on the other hand, also increased 7.76 percent for the period to 757,065 TEUs from 702,531 TEUs last year.
The North Harbor continues to rank first in terms of volume of domestic containerized cargo handled during the period with 353,128 TEUs.
The Manila International Container Terminal, on the other hand, continues to handle the largest volume of foreign containerized cargo with 650,629 TEUs followed by South Harbor with 280,736 TEUs and Batangas with 49,055 TEUs.
PPA said that the Sasa Wharf in Davao, which used to rank third after North Harbor posted only 32,295 TEUs as of end April due to the existing condition of the port, while private commercial ports in the area showed increases in TEU volume, indicating diversion of container traffic from the government port to the private ports.
Republic Act 10668 or the Foreign Ships Co-Loading Act allows foreign ships to call in multiple ports within the Philippines, provided that their cargoes are intended for import and export and duly cleared by the Bureau of Customs.
The measure is expected to reduce logistics costs for producers and is also anticipated to help in decongesting major ports in the country.
“While we expect that the effect of the relaxation of the Cabotage will not immediately trickle down to port operations, our ports will not have a hard time adjusting to the expected influx of vessels and cargoes in the different ports,” Sta. Ana said.