SUBIC BAY FREEPORT - More shipping companies and port users in Central and Northern Luzon are now preferring to use the Port of Subic as transshipment hub because of easy access and lower cost.
The shippers lauded the advantages of the Subic port during the 2nd Subic Bay Maritime Conference and Exhibit, which was held here on Friday with no less than 500 delegates from shipping firms, trucking and forwarding consortiums, customs brokers, import/export-related corporations, and other port users from Metro Manila, Central and Northern Luzon, as well as Southern Luzon.
The conference, with the theme “Subic Bay: Your Gateway to Central and Northern Luzon,” was organized by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) in cooperation with Subic Bay International Terminal Corp. (SBITC).
Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, who was keynote speaker in the event, said that “Most people are moving north and the number is up tremendously.”
Almendras, who is also head of the Cabinet Cluster on Port Decongestion, noted the successful transformation of Subic from a mere seaport with well-maintained facilities into an international seaport hub and the role it played at the height of the port congestion crisis and truck ban in Manila.
“The important part of the success in moving resources is the port. And when we turned to Subic in those times of crisis, there is no way turning back,” he said.
He said that delays in processing goods in Manila during the crisis had made companies turn to Subic in order to ship their replenishment stocks in less than two weeks.
Meanwhile, Vincent Gottman, operations manager of Hansa Creation, said that since they started using the Port of Subic for shipping in raw materials and transporting finished products to a factory in Manila, they never encountered a single problem.
“Since using Subic, our deliveries always arrived on time,” said Gottman whose company based in the Clark Special Economic Zone supplies toys to many zoos and wild parks worldwide.
He added that the government should tell stakeholders in the shipping industry about the changes that the Port of Subic underwent to provide better services, and to convince more companies to use Subic for their export and import operations.
For his part, Gary Lagadon, the procurement manager of San Miguel Brewery, told delegates that as of 2014 San Miguel Brewery’s port operations had moved its transshipment to Subic because of the ease in moving goods in and out of the container yard.
“There was no problem that we encountered in transporting our shipments. Instead, we have a bonus from Subic and that is cost-saving,” Lagadon said.
He noted that using Subic is more economical because of its easy access to Northern Luzon, adding that the company is now moving 80% of its product supply in Luzon, with only 20% contracted to Manila.
“Hopefully, this year, we can make that 100%,” he added.
For Anthony Eugenio, operations manager of Atlas Brokerage and Express Padala, Inc., using the port of Subic for receiving “Balikbayan” boxes from the United States has the same cost as in Manila “Except that in Subic there is no problem about traffic and the threat of port congestion that might put the company’s service to test.”
Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PECI) in Region III president Cris Venzon, who spoke in behalf of his group, announced that PECI is supporting the initiatives of SBMA in improving the Port of Subic.
“We want to ship out (our products) through Subic,” Venzon said, adding that doing so will save them time and the cost of transportations compared to using Manila ports.
He explained that from anywhere in Central Luzon, Subic is accessible through major road networks, which are now undergoing widening and improvement to address the imminent increase of trucks and forwarders plying to Subic from various origins in the region.
For his part, SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia said that the continuous improvement of the Port of Subic has already resulted in the entry of four more shipping lines.
Garcia said that the Japan-based Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) Line, one of the largest shipping companies in the world, made its first direct route to the Port of Subic from Kaohsiung, Taipei in November last year with its MV Jakarta Towers.
China-based SITC Container Lines (Phils.), Inc. has also opened a direct route from Xiamen, China to Subic.
Maersk Line, listed among the largest container shipping companies in the world, brought to this premier free port the first good news for 2015, as MV Stadt Dresden marked its maiden voyage a direct route from Singapore to Subic.
“Subic, today, is the most preferred and most competitive gateway to Central Luzon and Northern Luzon with its newly opened One-Stop-Shop Center at the New Container Terminal 1 that can connect shippers to the SBMA-Bureau of Customs and SBITC for faster transactions,” Garcia also told the conference delegates.(30)
Cabinet Secretary Jose Almendras (left) and SBMA Chairman and Administrator Roberto V. Garcia prepare to cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the One-Stop-Shop at the New Container Terminal-1 to fast-track port transactions inside Subic Bay Freeport Zone.