THE Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) expects business to register flat growth this year because of the slowdown in the US economy.
“The movements in the US economy will really affect everybody… but the magnitude of the effect cannot be determined just yet,” AISL president Octavio Katigbak said in an interview.
“Shipping lines should look for other markets to cushion all possible effects of the potential breakdown to their operations,” Katigbak, who is also president of K-Line Philippines, said.
“The continuing strength of the peso is, however, welcome news as it will induce imports into the country and somewhat shield the country from any other effects of the potential recession,” Katigbak added.
Last year, the AISL was bullish about the Philippine economy because of the stable political climate. Katigbak then had predicted a minimum 10% growth or an additional 160,000 TEUs, in the country’s cargo throughput.
Not only did the expectation fail to materialize, it also worsened with the slowdown in the US economy by the end of 2007.
Last year, AISL member lines handled an estimated 1.6-million TEUs, about the same as in 2006.
The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) in its annual ports’ executive conference report said it has little hope for stellar cargo throughput growth in the next three years until 2010 with volume growth in the country’s top 10 major gateways limited to less than 5%.
The 10 ports are Manila International Container Terminal, South Harbor, North Harbor, Batangas Port, Iloilo, Davao, Zamboanga, Iloilo, Ozamiz and Cagayan de Oro.
Cargo volume forecasts in six of the 10 ports show a combined 2.5-5% growth with the rest expected to crank out flat to negative growth.