Port and supply chain stakeholder groups in the Philippines have voiced varying levels of optimism this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the health crisis that has brought new challenges to the fore and highlighted existing ones.
Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines (SCMAP) president Pierre Carlo Curay told PortCalls their overall outlook “is quite bullish, as supply chain and logistics is essential to almost all industries,” and the industry’s growth is tied to the economy bouncing back from the effects of the pandemic.
Curay said the industry is “quite resilient,” and in both good and bad times, its services are needed and contribute to cost savings and survivability of any enterprise.
He added that in general, the industry is “adaptable” and has been able to adjust to and overcome challenges encountered during last year’s multiple lockdowns.
The Philippine Multimodal Transport and Logistics Association, Inc. (PMTLAI) also has a generally positive outlook for the year, expecting 2021 to be slightly better but not dramatically improving from last year, according to president Marilyn Alberto.
Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) general manager Atty. Maximino Cruz said they are “cautiously optimistic” that import volumes in the country will grow 10% to 15% this year as against 2020. The group, however, sees no significant growth for exports this year.
Preliminary data from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) showed foreign cargoes decreased by 7% in 2020, with imports down by 10% and exports by 2.4%. Foreign container traffic dropped 14.5%, with imports and exports plunging 14.2% and 14.9%, respectively.
With COVID-19 cases increasing again, the Port Users Confederation of the Philippines (PUCP) holds a conservative outlook but expects a better year than last year.
Philippine Coastwise Shipping Association (PCSA) president Paul Rodriguez, on the other hand, said the domestic shipping sector still holds a negative outlook even until next year and 2023 due to weak consumption brought about by the pandemic-induced global economic slowdown.
Domestic shipping has been hit hard by the pandemic, with volumes falling 24% to 79.274 million metric tons (mt) last year from 104.428 million mt in 2019, according to preliminary data from PPA. Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority also showed domestic trade volume and value declined in all quarters of last year, with a historic decline of 77.8% in volume and 69.1% in value in the second quarter of 2020 when lockdowns were stricter.
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