New shipping route seen to increase PH-Indonesia trade

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 April) – The launch on Sunday (April 30) of a new shipping route that will link the cities of Davao and General Santos in Mindanao to Bitung in Indonesia is seen to open up more market opportunities for both countries.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Indonesian President Jokoko Widodo, who will fly to Davao City from Manila after the three-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit on April 26 to 29, will grace the event.

In a text message on Tuesday, Mindanao Business Council chair Vicente Lao said the weekly Davao-General Santos-Bitung roll on/roll off Shipping Service is a good development because it will strengthen trade between the Philippines and Indonesia.

“This will increase the volume of trade between our two countries now that there will be a regular carrier of goods across these two destinations,” he said.

Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII) president Ronald Go said the new route will provide more opportunities to establish new markets for goods and source out cheaper inputs for companies in Mindanao.

“Overall it will be a win-win situation for both countries,” he said.

DCCCII chair Antonio Dela Cruz lauded the “strong political will” of Duterte for realizing the new route, which is set to make trading much easier with a shorter shipment period.

“This did not materialize during the last (Aquino) administration,” he said.

He said he believes it will boost Mindanao’s economy “since we have now a direct link to this part of Indonesia.”

During the Davao-Gensan-Bitung, Indonesia Business Forum at the SMX Convention Center Davao on Feb. 24, Trade Assistant Secretary Arturo Boncato said the shipment of goods under the current Davao-Manila-Jakarta-Bitung sea route takes about three to five weeks and 1.5 days for the Davao-Gensan-Bitung route.

“This will cut time in moving goods from certain parts of the Philippines to parts of Indonesia. This is a very good route to move products from the Philippines to Indonesia, China, (South) Korea, and the rest of the world because it is very strategic and great for our local producers,” he said.

The route will be serviced by Asian Marine Transport Corporation of businessman Paul Rodriguez whose vessel can hold up to 100 20-footer vans.

Romeo Montenegro, director of investment promotion and public affairs of Mindanao Development Authority, said the route will improve business in two ways.

“One, it will make Davao-Gensan-Bitung as transshipment points. Second, it will engage all of our producers in the Philippines, especially Mindanao and Palawan, as part of our effort in BIMP (Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines) to broaden and link with markets in Bitung and the rest of Indonesia and vice versa.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)