The Philippine Star

Gov’t agen­cies study­ing ways to bring down ship­ping cost

- By LOUELLA DESIDE­RIO Business · Philippines Department of Trade and Industry · Philippines Department of Finance · United States Department of Transportation · Philippines · Manila

Reg­u­la­tions to ad­dress high ship­ping charges may take the form of a law in­stead of an ear­lier plan to is­sue an ex­ec­u­tive or­der (EO), ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try (DTI).

Trade Un­der­sec­re­tary Rowel Barba said agen­cies such as the DTI, Depart­ment of Fi­nance (DOF) and Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion (DOTr) are study­ing how to ad­dress the high ship­ping rates in the coun­try, which is among the con­cerns of lo­cal busi­nesses.

“DTI-DOF and DOTr are still dis­cussing the best op­tion. It ap­pears that the best op­tion is leg­is­la­tion,” he said in a text mes­sage.

Dur­ing the Sec­ond Lo­gis­tics Ser­vices Philip­pines Con­fer­ence and Ex­hi­bi­tion held in July, Trade Sec­re­tary Ra­mon Lopez said the DOTr, DTI, DOF tech­ni­cal work­ing group would re­con­vene to re­con­sti­tute the joint ad­min­is­tra­tive or­der (JAO) which would cover reg­u­la­tions on charges be­ing im­posed by ship­ping lines into an EO.

“We be­lieve it will ad­dress the in­sti­tu­tional ar­range­ments re­quired to reg­u­late high ship­ping costs, and ad­dress the prob­lem of port in­ef­fi­cien­cies, but le­gal ba­sis must be clearly es­tab­lished. Maybe the JAO would need teeth. There­fore, it must re­ally be an EO that will spell the dif­fer­ence. That is our lat­est de­ci­sion,” he said ear­lier.

While the JAO will cover the co­op­er­a­tion of dif­fer­ent agen­cies in ad­dress­ing con­cerns raised on high ship­ping costs and con­ges­tion at ports, Lopez said the EO would spec­ify which agency would be ac­count­able for set­ting or hav­ing con­trol over the al­low­able ship­ping rates.

Ear­lier this year, the agen­cies agreed to come up with a JAO to reg­u­late and spec­ify the rules and reg­u­la­tions to gov­ern fees and charges of ship­ping lines, port op­er­a­tors, truck­ers, and port users to lower op­er­at­ing costs and im­prove lo­gis­tics ef­fi­cien­cies.

This JAO was ini­tially eyed for re­lease in Fe­bru­ary.

The gov­ern­ment made a move to come up with a JAO to ad­dress con­cerns raised by the pri­vate sec­tor, par­tic­u­larly high ship­ping charges and con­ges­tion at Manila’s ports.

Based on data re­ceived and val­i­dated by the DTI, ad­di­tional ship­ping charges be­ing im­posed reach up to around $1,000 per con­tainer.

In ad­dress­ing the high ship­ping charges, Lopez said ear­lier the gov­ern­ment is look­ing at com­ing up with a cap or range, as well as the num­ber of al­low­able fees to be charged.

Im­ple­men­ta­tion of the JAO is among the rec­om­men­da­tions in the draft res­o­lu­tion to be sub­mit­ted by the coun­try’s largest busi­ness group, the Philip­pine Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try to Pres­i­dent Duterte dur­ing the 45th Philip­pine Busi­ness Con­fer­ence and Expo to be held this week.

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