The Senate has passed on third and final reading a bill that allows foreign ships to dock from one local port to another, provided that their cargoes are intended for import or export and duly cleared by the Customs bureau.
Senate Bill No. 2486, sponsored by Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, amends Section 1009 of the Presidential Decree No. 1464, otherwise known as the Tariff and Customs Code of 1978,and aims to introduce reforms in the shipping industry.
He said this is the country’s first step in efforts to open the shipping industry, let it grow and thrive, and make it as efficient as possible .
“Approval of this measure not only saves much needed cash; those who are into the import-export business will also be able to access a cheaper alternative in transporting their goods through co-loading in foreign ships. Ultimately, this leads to lower prices of goods for the Filipino public,” Aquino said.
Under the measure, a foreign cargo will be allowed to go directly to Manila, then proceed to CDO instead of the usual procedure where goods are unloaded in Manila, then transshipped to local carriers which will carry these to CDO.
“Entrepreneurs who are exporting goods from Subic, Cebu, CDO and Davao, would be able to co-load in one ship before heading out of the country directly in a more efficient and cost-effective manner instead of having to pass by the Manila ports,” Aquino said.
Allowing foreign ships to go directly to other domestic ports around the country will free up space in the container yards in the Port of Manila, saving time, costs and energy for exporters and importers in sending their raw materials, goods.
He noted that passing the measure answers the call of President Benigno Aquino III and various stakeholders to enhance the country’s maritime transport industry.
Section 1009 of the Tariff and Customs Code of 1978 states that passengers or cargo arriving from abroad via a foreign vessel may only be carried by the same vessel through any port of entry to the port of destination in the Philippines. It also states that cargo intended for export may be carried in a foreign vessel through a Philippine port
Senate Bill No. 2486 provides Filipino producers and entrepreneurs the chance to lower their production costs by allowing importers and exporters to co-load in foreign ships going in or out of the Philippine jurisdiction. This, according to the bill, allows for the decongestion of the Port of Manila, thereby allowing for easier business transactions in the maritime transport industry.
As an example, Aquino said that an exporter from Cagayan de Oro (CDO) currently needs to pay twice to ship goods to Hong Kong (US$1,120 to ship his goods to Manila via a local shipping line, and US$144 for the trip from Manila to Hong Kong) while the cost of shipping a 20-foot container unit from Kaoshiung, Taiwan, to Cagayan de Oro only costs US$360.
Aquino also noted that the same importer from Cagayan de Oro will also pay twice to ship his cargo: US$159 for the trip from Kaoshiung, Taiwan, to Manila using a foreign vessel, and US$1,120 for the trip from Manila to CDO.