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COVID sinks PH cargo volume by 13.7% in 2020

  • Cargo volume handled by Philippine Ports Authority ports in 2020 dropped 13.7%
  • Domestic cargoes declined 24% while foreign cargoes decreased 7%
  • Container throughput contracted 14% last year
  • Shipcalls dropped 36.1%, passenger traffic plunged 70.3%, and roll-on/roll-off traffic contracted 35.1%

Cargo volume handled by Philippine ports in 2020 dropped 13.7% to 229.807 million metric tons (mt) from 266.417 million mt in 2019 as both domestic and foreign cargoes recorded declines, data from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) showed.

PPA earlier said it expected ship calls and cargo volumes to decline amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which has significantly affected global and domestic trade, restricted movements of goods and people, and caused economic slowdowns worldwide.

Total volumes handled by ports under PPA’s jurisdiction in 2020 comprised 34% domestic cargoes and 66% foreign cargoes.

Domestic cargoes, which recorded the biggest drop, tanked 24% to 79.274 million mt last year from 104.428 million mt in 2019.

Foreign cargoes slid 7% to 150.533 million mt last year from 161.989 million mt in 2019.

Imports went down 10% to 90.298 million mt from 100.298 million mt, while exports declined 2.4% to 60.235 million mt from 61.691 million mt.

In terms of region, 50% of the total cargo was handled by Luzon ports, 34% by Mindanao ports and 16% by Visayas ports.

Cargo volume in Luzon ports fell 22.3% last year to 115.332 million mt from 148.358 million mt in 2019. Visayas ports also handled less cargo last year with 36.630 million mt, 9.9% less than the 40.659 million mt in 2019.

The only region to post a slight improvement last year was Mindanao, where ports handled 77.845 million mt, 0.6% higher than the 77.400 million mt recorded in 2019.

In terms of containers, PPA ports registered a 14% contraction last year with 6.762 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) serviced from 7.866 million TEUs in 2019.

Domestic containers declined 13.3% to 2.745 million TEUs from 3.166 million TEUs while foreign boxes decreased 14.5% to 4.017 million TEUs from 4.700 million TEUs.

Import containers shrank 14.2% to 2.005 million TEUs from 2.337 million TEUs. Also down 14.9% were export containers with 2.012 million TEUs from 2.363 million TEUs in 2019.

Shipcalls last year went down 36.1% to 321,560 vessels from 503,098 vessels in 2019. Domestic shipcalls plunged 36.9% to 310,151 vessels from 491,836 vessels, while foreign shipcalls increased 1.3% to 11,409 vessels from 11,262.

Passenger traffic last year was heavily affected by travel restrictions due to the pandemic, plunging 70.3% to 24.902 million passengers from 83.721 million passengers in 2019. Disembarked passengers contracted 70.2% to 12.591 million passengers from 42.309 million passengers in 2019.

Embarked passengers likewise declined 70.2% to 12.28 million passengers from 41.199 million passengers.

Cruise passenger traffic took the biggest hit last year, sinking 85.3% to 31,340 passengers from 213,765 passengers in 2019.

Roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) traffic went down 35.1% to 5.076 million last year from 7.819 million in 2019. Inbound Ro-Ro traffic dropped 34.8% to 2.551 million from 3.91 million while outbound Ro-Ro traffic was 35.4% less to 2.525 million from 3.909 million.

PPA has jurisdiction over majority of public and private ports in the country, except those under separate agencies such as Cebu Port Authority and Freeport authorities. – Roumina Pablo

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