Home » Maritime » MARINA: More effort should be placed on shipbuilding

THE Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) is keen on developing the Philippines as a maritime hub through the development of the shipbreaking, shipbuilding, and drydocking industries, and the acquisition of vessels and transshipment of cargoes rather than through regulation. While being blessed with abundant resources perfect for a lucrative shipping industry, the Philippines failed to focus on developing its potentials, said MARINA administrator Vicente T. Suazo, Jr. “The recognized tiger economies of Asia have prospered over the years because they have rightfully focused on these maritime potentials,” Suazo said. Taiwan is synonymous with shipbreaking; Japan, the world’s top shipbuilder, which was eventually displaced by South Korea; and Singapore and Hong Kong, the present maritime hubs of Asia in view of their booming cargo transshipments. “The Philippines could have joined the bandwagon and caught the boom, had we properly developed our shipbuilding industry, “Suazo pointed out. He said that in the past, many foreign vessels used to come to the Philippines for drydocking but were shunned by substantial duties and bureaucratic red tape at the Bureau of Customs.

Empowered by its vision to turn the Philippines into Asia’s next maritime hub, MARINA has laid down plans for the country’s maritime industry according to specific mandates, which include promotional,developmental and regulatory/supervisory activities.

Under its promotional mandate, the maritime agency is focusing on the promotion of Philippine-flag ships, development of new financing windows for shipping and proposing maritime attaches in strategic international ports.

The developmental mandate covers the establishment of MARINA training centers, development of certification process for competency of maritime manpower, development of new routes/areas of operation,conduct of a pre-feasibility study to identify potential routes, development of mandatory ship retirement/replacement program, improvement of shipyard capability to build 500 gross-registered tonnage ships and below and adoption of electronic commerce.

Suazo said the regulatory/supervisory activities would pave the way for the adjustment/rationalization of safety standards according to ship type or size; preparation of guidebook for enhanced enforcement and monitoring procedures; codification of MARINA circulars, maritime-related laws, rules and regulations; ratification of maritime conventions; domestic shipping database update; and enhancement of an overall maritime industry database.

Suazo noted one viable strategy for sea transport is cargo consolidation vis-ˆ-vis designation of suitable hub centers and ports. “As you know, carriers look into moving cargoes as one economy in or out of the ASEAN or the APEC Region through cargo consolidation,” he said.

In the case of bulk grain shipments, Suazo pointed out Mindanao is a potential hub, especially ports in the northern part. The Asian Development Bank of the Philippines is currently conducting a study on the prioritization of strategic directions on the shipment of corn to Borneo and fertilizer from Bintulu as backload.

Meanwhile, an ideal container transshipment hub would be the port of Makar in General Santos, especially with the opening of the direct containerized services to and from Bintung. “Exports from East Asia will utilize this route instead of going down to Surabaya via Jakarta to Singapore then Kaoshioung for the US West Coast,” Suazo said.

He noted shipping costs may be reduced by as much as 50% using the same route for imports from the US West Coast destined for Sulawesi, Maluku, Irian Jaya and up to the Lesser Sundra Islands. .

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