Home » Maritime » Shipping lines guarded over business prospects

INTERNATIONAL carriers operating in the Philippines continue to take a cautious stance on business this year.

Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) president Patrick Ronas told PortCalls that while “the latest trade data and reports show the (overall) US trade has gone up month-on-month as of December, the figures still look rather lame compared with the preceding years.”

The US is the Philippines’ largest trading partner.

“As to the recovery in the US, I think we have to identify where such economic recuperation is happening. Reports indicate the financial markets or services as the one leading the growth but we want to see growth trickle down to the consumer market where it will have a direct effect on Philippine products,” Ronas, who is also executive vice president of Soriamont Steamship Agencies, Inc, explained.

“Definitely there is improvement but there is a guarded feeling in the air. We will see how all these will fare come May when new service contracts are signed,” Ronas said.

He added carriers would be happier if the US employment rate grew because this meant increased consumer spending, a definite boon for Philippine exporters.

Meanwhile, AISL member lines see the different free trade agreements in Asia, specifically the one between Asean and China and Asean and Australia and New Zealand, as a potential benefit to the business of container shipping.

The reduction in import tariff to zero on majority of commodities moving within Asean and China will surely boost trade with the regional powerhouse, they said.

The Asean-China market in terms of value of goods grew five times from a decade ago – and this is even without any formal agreement with China.

As of November 2009, China was the Philippines’ fourth biggest source of imports with an 8.3% share of the total. Payments reached $299.60 million. November exports to China, on the other hand, amounted to $227.98 million.

Late last year, international container lines operating in the Philippines said they expected business to recover only in 2011 with global trade remaining anemic due to the global economic crisis.

The crisis has put pressure on volume and freight rates. Volume dipped 20% and freight rates by at least 50% last year.

 

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