Exporters can save 68% of shipping cost with new route to Indonesia

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 27 April) – Exporters from Mindanao can save up to 68 percent of shipping cost with the new Davao-GenSan-Bitung roll on/roll off (RORO) shipping route, said to be the cheapest and fastest route between Mindanao and Indonesia.

Data from the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) showed exporters pay a shipping cost of P109,098 per twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) under the current Davao-Manila-Jakarta-Bitung sea route that takes three to five weeks of travel.

The new sea route from Davao City-General Santos City-Bitung, Indonesia, scheduled for launch on April 30, cuts the cost to P34,713 per TEU with a much shorter travel time of one to two days.

Cebu-based shipping company Asian Marine Transport Cooperation, owned by businessman Paul Rodriguez, will service the route with its M/V Super Shuttle RORO 12 that has a 500-TEU capacity.

Among the products that can be exchanged between the two countries include animal feeds, aqua products, charcoal, coffee beans, construction materials, copra, feed ingredients, fertilizers, food and beverages, fresh fruits, ice cream products, meats, peanuts, poultry (halal), soya, sugar, and synthetics.

The shipping route is a result of the feasibility study conducted in 2010 by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in collaboration with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Research Education and Institutional Development Foundation, as part of the ASEAN Connectivity Masterplan.

MinDA chair Abdul Khayr Alonto told Wednesday’s at Habi at Kape that the shipping route is seen to provide greater access for local businessmen to engage in international trade.

He said it will particularly develop micro, small and medium businesses in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the rest of Mindanao, encouraging them to produce for domestic and ASEAN market.

Alonto is optimistic the route will be sustained, not only with exchange of goods, but also the movement of people, ideas, languages, and cultures.

“It is not a question whether it can sustained. It’s just a beginning and an opening,” he said.

He said he was grateful to President Rodrigo R. Duterte for pursuing the establishment of the route as he promised during the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit held in Vientiane, Laos in September 2016.

Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo will lead the inauguration on April 30 at the Kudos Port in Km. 12, Sasa, Davao City.

Alonto said that some 19 businessmen from the Indonesian Chambers of Commerce, along with Widodo, will visit the city to explore opportunities and meet with Davao counterparts to discuss ways how they can work to sustain the shipping route.

“This will be an opportunity to already work it out with their counterparts coming from Indonesia. We have Indonesian companies already based in the country who will also participate,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)