THE region’s shipping industry recorded increased activities in the first quarter of this year from its performance in the last quarter of 2020.
The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) 7 said unlike the aviation industry, which has been badly affected by the global halt in travel movements due to the pandemic, the shipping industry has continued to recover in terms of shipcalls, and passenger, cargo and container traffic.
The number of shipcalls recorded in the first quarter of 2021 stood at 26,236, an improvement from the fourth quarter’s 23,848. This figure, though, is a reduction of 50.2 percent from 52,706 recorded in the first quarter of 2020 pre-pandemic period.
Passenger traffic, on the other hand, in the first quarter reached 1,138,000, an improvement from the 793,000 recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Passenger traffic in the first quarter of 2020 stood at 7,495,000.
In the case of the cargo subsector, the volume of cargo in the first quarter of 2021 was slightly lower than that in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Cargo volume slid to 253,000,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) from 257,000,000 TEU in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The Neda 7 said the shortage of space in cargo vessels hampered the growth.
The agency also said there are indications of shipping rates likely to go up within the year, which could weigh on the subsector’s performance.
Earlier, Cebuano exporters said they were facing a worsening problem in the global supply chain and logistics due to the lack of vessel space, soaring freight rates and container shortage that have resulted in shipment delays and huge losses.
Nelson Bascones, an exporter for processed seafood and former Philexport Cebu president, noted there is no available space in the vessels, causing their products not to reach the intended market in the United States.
“We’re supposed to ship at least one container a week. Last April, we did not ship a single container as well as this June,” he said.
Bascones added there are also no available containers.
He said ports are also congested because of the reduction of labor, especially in the US.
Philexport president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said while this is a global issue that may be beyond anyone’s control, the government and private sector must still work closely together to find ways to effectively address the logistics constraints.
Philexport emphasized the urgency of addressing this problem now “before it morphs into a crisis worse than the recurring port congestion and (becomes) a further hindrance to recovery and employment.” (KOC)