Home » Customs & Trade, Maritime » PH carriers seek clear vessel operation rules under ASEAN integration

Philippine vessel operators are asking for concrete vessel operation guidelines from the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) once the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) goes into full force in 2015.

Members of the Philippine Liner Shipping Association (PLSA) said black-and-white rules are needed despite guarantees from Marina that under the AEC foreign-flag vessels will not be allowed to ply the domestic trade, as prescribed by the cabotage law.

The AEC blueprint targets an ASEAN single market in 2015 where goods, services, investments, capital, and skilled labor can flow freely within the 10-member nations of the ASEAN that includes the Philippines. Asean is home to 600 million people and a combined gross domestic product of more than $1.13 trillion.

“This early, we want to make sure local vessel operators will not be at a disadvantage when the AEC is imposed,” a PLSA source told PortCalls.

“Marina has already assured us shipping will not be affected by the implementation of the AEC by 2015 but this should be in writing or in a form of rules. It is only practical to ask this for us to prepare whether cabotage will stay or not.”

While the cabotage law gives local shipping operators the exclusive rights to ply Philippine waters, some foreign vessels are allowed to operate in the domestic trade via a special permit issued by Marina in case of a shortage in bottoms.

Under an integrated community, the use of special permits could be exploited by foreign carriers, warned PLSA.

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