THE Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) expects a minimum 10% growth in total cargo volume this year to 1.76 million TEUs due to more favorable
business and political conditions in the country.
Last year, the 43-member shipping lines of the AISL moved an estimated 1.6 million TEUs.
“The outlook for Philippine business is very positive this year,” re-elected AISL president Octavio Katigbak told PortCalls at the sidelines of the association’s induction ceremonies last week.
“We are looking forward to increased business as the economy takes an upturn. We expect at least a 10% volume growth starting year brought about by a steadier economy compared to several years back,” he said.
Katigbak, who is also president of K-Line Philippines, pointed out that AISL members have been enjoying the fruits of robust worldwide economic activity for the
last few years, expanding their fleets and expecting to take delivery of new high-capacity ships within the next few years.
AISL members represent international container shipping lines in the Philippines.
Katigbak said that with the political problem starting to taper off, businesses are expected to pick up but volume growth will still be dependent on import shipments. Exports, he said, are still expected to take a beating with the strengthening Philippine peso.
Katigbak hopes the export community can cope with the currency issue faster than expected to further boost growth areas in the country.
Aside from speedier export recovery, Katigbak stressed on the need to hasten completion of infrastructure projects, specifically those in the vicinity of the major gateways, to boost the country’s attractiveness to the inter-national market.
“Carriers are con-cerned over the tempo of the in-frastructure projects. They are worried that the projects may not be ready at the time when they are
truly needed,” he said.
Except a few ports such as International Container Terminal Services, Inc. which can handle post-panamax vessels, most Philippine ports can only handle panamax vessels. Among Philippine Ports Authority-controlled ports, only Batangas has the capability to handle post-panamax vessels but the road infrastructure leading to the facility is a big problem for shippers. As a result, the port is shunned and is presently suffering from low volumes.
“With the trend in international shipping shifting to new and high-capacity ships, the Philip-pines should be ready for these changes if it wants to bring in more cargo. Port capacity and capability should be improved, road segments, particularly those in and out of the ports, should also be developed with a faster pace,” Katigbak said.