Home » Maritime » Maritime group pushes ban on vessel imports

A group of naval architects and marine engineers is helping prepare a shipping industry road map — with emphasis on shipbuilding — for submission to the new government.

“The Philippines cannot be a maritime power without a shipbuilding industry,” Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (Soname) president Sammuel Lim said in a press briefing.

In order to strengthen the sector, Lim said government should ban ship imports and instead order that all vessels for the domestic trade be built in the country. “Government should do its part just like… when it banned the use of single-hull tankers for persistent oil two years ago,” he added.

The vessel import ban “will have a ripple effect” on the country’s shipbuilding industry, boosting the manning, ship management and ship owning sectors and the naval architecture and marine engineering profession, Lim said.

As part of its efforts to assist the shipbuilding industry, Soname recently launched a design contest aimed at finding the most suitable vessel design for the domestic trade.

Designs are initially limited to passenger ferries on four-hour voyages and cargo/passenger ferries. The contest is open to amateur and professional naval designers.

Soname has invited financing institutions such as the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Japan International Cooperation Agency to help judge entries and come up with financing schemes for ship building and operation.

The Philippine Interisland Shipping Association is also part of the panel of judges and will specifically look at the operational suitability of designs.

The winning design will be shared with Philippine-based shipbuilders.

Domestic vessel operators currently prefer to buy relatively inexpensive, second-hand imported vessels mostly from Japan and Korea with an average age of 25 years. But experts contend these are unsuitable to local conditions.

In order to boost the industry and stem the flood of imports, Congress passed Republic Act 9295 or the Domestic Shipping Development Act of 2004 that provides incentives and tax breaks to ship owners who refleet or have their vessels build by local shipyards. Until now though the industry seems not to have taken off.

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