Port operators record less discrepancy between exporters’ declared verified gross mass (VGM) and VGM obtained at the port more than a month since the export container weighing policy was strictly implemented
Only 14% of total export shipments at Manila South Harbor from July 30 to August 2 were imposed with shut out fees for discrepancy
86.63% of total export shipments at Manila International Container Terminal on August 5 were within the allowable threshold weight
PHILEXPORT says exporters should consider having their weighing equipment calibrated by the Department of Science and Technology while a national authorization body for weighing calibration is being determined
Manila port operators are seeing among exporters greater compliance to the policy on mandatory weighing of export containers.
The operators said less discrepancies were recorded between exporters’ declared verified gross mass (VGM) and the VGM obtained at the port more than a month since the policy was strictly implemented.
From July 30 to August 2, only 14% of the total export shipments at Manila South Harbor were imposed with shut out fees, after recording different VGM at the terminal from VGM declared in their pre-advice, according to Reginald Rivera, marketing manager of port operator Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI).
This is an improvement from the 24% recorded during the first week of strict implementation of the mandatory weighing of export shipments under Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) No. 02-2021 from June 25 to July 1, Rivera said during a recent webinar hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau.
For Manila International Container Terminal (MICT), management services and government affairs director Voltaire Wycoco during the same webinar said 91.47% and 86.63% of the total export shipments as of August 4 and 5, respectively, were within the allowable threshold weight discrepancy of above or below 1,500 kilograms under AO 02-2021.
Wycoco noted “a large majority” of exporters’ weight declarations were the same as the weight recorded at the port.
PPA AO 02-2021 provides revised guidelines on mandatory weighing of export containers, making shippers responsible for obtaining and documenting the VGM of their packed containers.
It aims to establish a common approach to implementing and enforcing the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) verified gross mass (VGM) Chapter VI Part A requirement, which centers on verification of the gross mass of packed containers for exports.
Amendments to the SOLAS VGM Chapter VI Part A require a shipper to indicate to the carrier or port operator the VGM of a packed container before it is loaded onto the vessel. The amendment was implemented globally from July 1, 2016 and in the Philippines, PPA in the same year issued AO 04-2016 to implement the policy. The policy was, however, not implemented strictly and was revisited resulting in the issuance of AO 04-2016.
Under AO 02-2021, the gross mass of packed containers may be verified using Method No. 1 (weighing) or Method No. 2 (calculating), and the VGM should be indicated in the shipping document.
The Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT) and Export Development Council (EDC), however, have been pressing for immediate suspension of AO 02-2021 while a calibration system for weighing scales is being developed.
While PHILEXPORT said it supports the SOLAS Convention, it earlier noted receiving complaints from members “mainly on the discrepancy in the declared container weights obtained using the exporter’s weighing scales, compared with the weights from the weigh bridges/scales of the port operators.”
PHILEXPORT said this has led to widespread imposition of shut out fees (containers loaded after paying fees) and actual shut outs (unloaded containers).
During the webinar, PHILEXPORT assistant vice president for advocacy, communications, and special concerns Ma. Flordeliza Leong raised the issue of discrepancy and the need for a third party or a government agency that will act as the national authorization body for weighing calibration.
PHILEXPORT and EDC earlier recommended that PPA work with DOST and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on how to facilitate calibration of weighing scales and bridges at the ports, and for PPA to set up a certification system, such as a DTI or DOST sticker or certificate, to prove the equipment has been officially calibrated.
PPA Port Operations and Services Department manager Hiyasmin Delos Santos during the same webinar said they have yet to determine the national authorization body but have already had previous meetings with DOST and EDC. She said that based on PPA research, the national body may be DOST or DTI.
She noted, however, that the absence of a national body should not deter from compliance to mandatory provisions of the Convention.
Delos Santos pointed to different weighing equipment used by port operators and exporters as a source of VGM discrepancy. A meeting with DOST revealed port operators use class 3 weighing equipment while exporters use class 4.
Another reason for the discrepancy is the non-regular calibration of weighing equipment. ATI and MICT said their equipment are calibrated by the DOST quarterly.
The weight of the truck and chassis used no longer being exact could be another reason, Delos Santos said.
While a national body for weighing calibration is determined, Leong suggested exporters consider having their weighing equipment calibrated by DOST, the same agency that calibrates weighing equipment of ATI and MICT.
For exporters without weighing equipment, Leong proposed using third-party providers or sharing equipment of exporters belonging to associations or those in close proximity. – Roumina Pablo