DOTr upbeat on new Philippines-Indonesia shipping route

MANILA -- The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is set to open a new shipping route from the Philippines to Indonesia in an effort to improve connectivity and boost international trade.

The new Davao-General Santos-Bitung, Indonesia shipping route is expected to ferry goods by three days as opposed to the current three to five weeks shipping time via the Manila-Bitung route.

It is expected to generate savings of up to USD1,500 (PHP75,000) per twenty foot equivalent unit (TEU) creating revenue for local businessmen and the government.

The opening of a shorter sea linkage is expected to strengthen trade relations between the Philippines and Indonesia, as well as stimulate other areas of developments such as foreign investments and tourism. It is also seen to strengthen the development of the Mindanao region.

Mindanao products such as fresh fruits, poultry, meat, coffee blends, fishing supplies, and synthetics were identified for export to Indonesia. On the other hand, Bitung, acity on the northern coast of Sulawesi known for rich marine life, will import coconut, copra, corn, high value crops, soya products, coffee beans, sugar, cement, and charcoal.

"Having a shipping route such as this is crucial for any maritime region. Sea linkage will strengthen our economies and our partnerships in other areas of development. And it will also improve the quality of life of our people because local businessmen and traders will directly benefit from this," Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said.

A task force comprising of the DOTr, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agriculture, and other concerned agencies has been formed to ensure the smooth delivery of the project. Members of the task force will be going to Bitung next week to check on port readiness and other compliance concerns. It is also encouraging private companies to use the service.

President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo were invited to the formal opening of the shipping route in Davao City on April 28.

Asian Marine Transport Corporation will be providing a weekly shipping schedule with a vessel capacity of 100 TEU. Other vessel operators are seen to express interest in the route resulting to a sustained growth on its demand.

The Davao - GenSan - Bitung route is one of the three ASEAN RORO priority routes identified in the JICA Feasibility Study on the Establishment of an ASEAN RORO Shipping Network that was adopted by the 25th ASEAN Maritime Transport Working Group Meeting in 2013. The other two routes are the Dumai - Malacca route and the Belawan - Penang - Phuket route.

The establishment of efficient and reliable shipping routes including the ASEAN RORO is one of the maritime initiatives under the roadmap towards an integrated and competitive maritime transport in ASEAN and maritime transport-related measures under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint, Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) and Brunei Action Plan 2011-2015 (BAP) and the Kuala Lumpur Transport Strategic Plan 2016-2025 (KLTSP). (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency