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UPS Philippines’ new managing director Christopher Buono. Photo courtesy of UPS.

Global supply chain solutions provider United Parcel Service (UPS) is bullish about Philippine prospects and has named a new country managing director to lead its express delivery and logistics operations.

Christopher Buono brings with him almost 15 years of experience with UPS. Prior to this role, Buono was based in Singapore as vice president of information technology for UPS Asia Pacific. He was responsible for applications development, infrastructure, procurement, telecommunications, and governance which encompassed compliance, information security, and cyber security in the region.

“Christopher’s depth of experience in Asia lends itself well to this key leadership role, and will boost UPS’s capabilities in the Philippines to help even more our customers expand their businesses to new markets,” UPS South Asia District president Jim O’Gara said in a statement.

UPS said the move reflects its continued optimism for the Philippines and other member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which continue to be among the world’s fastest growing economies.

A promising market

In a media roundtable on August 24, Buono said the Philippines has become “a market to watch”, with the country’s rising middle class, young English-speaking workforce, and uncompromising long-term development plan providing a strong foundation for equitable growth.

In support of the government’s outlined long-term roadmaps to transform the country into a regional and global industrial and manufacturing hub, Buono said UPS as a trade enabler is “aligning with the country’s vision of pursuing greater productivity and economic expansion through stronger trade relationships with ASEAN and key trade partners.”

At the same time, Buono noted the importance of intra-Asia trade as more than half of the Philippines’ major trading partners are in the region. The integration of the regional trade bloc, he added, will benefit small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and consumers locally and across the region immensely by “lowering barriers to international trade and facilitating and smoothening cross-border trade.”

Buono said UPS’s role is to connect local businesses to regional and global supply and value chains by helping “strengthen their supply chains, ensure complete and accurate documentation, and deliver their products ultimately on time.”

A focus on SMEs

He sees UPS engaging more closely with the SME community and providing SMEs with more avenues for international growth. With the rise of e-commerce, he said “all of a sudden SMEs are finding themselves having to look beyond their comfort zones and doing business domestically in order to stay relevant.”

“And with this also comes the need to deliver goods more quickly and to more destinations globally,” Buono added.

Built with SMEs in mind, a new corporate website has been launched by UPS as one of its tools to help SMEs ship more easily without having to integrate additional technology into their IT systems.

Aside from SMEs, industrial and automotive manufacturing will continue to be a key growth sector for UPS in the Philippines.

UPS also supports the implementation of the ASEAN Roadmap for the Integration of Logistics Services, which aims to liberalize logistics services to ensure ASEAN firms have access to world-class service providers.

Additionally, the service provider is looking to pursue more opportunities to “help local businesses take advantage of intensified intra-Asia trade” with the recent signing of the ratification of the Protocol on the Legal Framework (PLF) to implement the ASEAN Single Window (ASW). The Philippines targets connecting the local single window system to the ASW and going live by December 2017.

Gaining business partners

Aside from tapping into opportunities brought about by regional integration, UPS has been working with multinational organizations and local partners to become more immersed in domestic operations.

Last year, UPS forged a partnership with logistics solutions provider Air21 to combine its international reach with Air21’s broad domestic presence, knowledge, and expertise.

“This was borne on a shared mission to support the international growth of local businesses,” Buono said.

Through the partnership, UPS now serves over 1,600 additional postal codes across seven key areas in the Philippines—Camanava, Angeles (Pampanga), Cavite, North and South Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Air21’s flights between Clark, Pampanga and Manila also support UPS’s inbound and outbound operations. As a result, transit times have been reduced and cut-off time extended by up to five hours. Pickup and delivery services also expanded to more postal codes across seven areas.

Air21 users, meanwhile, can take advantage of UPS’s transportation, contract logistics, trade management services, and full suite of technologies at Air21’s 144 strategically located stores across the Philippines.

Buono said UPS continues to work with Air21 on strategic initiatives, taking into consideration factors such as the increase in the de minimis value; the ongoing mainstreaming and enabling of online shopping for both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) clients; and the emerging needs of exporters located in highly urbanized cities outside of Metro Manila and in the next wave cities in Visayas and Mindanao.

Besides partnerships with local players, Buono said UPS is working hand in hand with industry and business groups to reach more clients and provide greater services.

UPS currently has six operating facilities, 150 points of access (outlets, alliances, customer centers), and a delivery fleet of 43 package vans, trucks, and motorcycles.

It operates 12 weekly flight segments to and from Clark International Airport (CRK) and Shenzhen International Airport using UPS Browntail, and 10 weekly flight segments to and from CRK and Mactan Cebu International Airport using Boeing B737s.

It likewise offers brokerage operations in Cebu, Clark, and Ninoy Aquino International Airport. – Roumina Pablo

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