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29 October 2008

SBMA cites growing role of Subic port in maritime trade

The two-day general assembly of the International Network of Affiliated Ports (INAP) started here on Tuesday on positive notes of greater cooperation and further growth among members, as host Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) cited the growing role of ports in the global trade.

INAP, which was formed in 1998 as a venue for exchanging information and sharing technology and expertise on marine transport and logistics, held its 10th annual conference here as the global economic downturn began affecting major industries, including the maritime sector.

However, Subic port officials led by SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga and SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said that Subic, like INAP's other member-ports, is still optimistic of attaining growth despite economic difficulties.

"The Port of Subic now boasts of thenewest operating container port in the country, and it possesses key infrastructure that can support a wide range of businesses," Arreza pointed out as he batted for this free port as an ideal maritime logistics hub.

"With this, Subic now responds to the growing requirements of seaborne trade in Northern and Central Luzon, and is ready for the capacity shortage of 14 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) projected for South East Asia," Arreza told conference delegates.

Arreza also said Subic's New Container Terminal-1, which was funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), has an annual capacity of 300,000 TEUs and equipped with two quay cranes capable of handling even post-Panamax cargo vessels.

The existence of nine other piers and cargo terminals in Subic, the massive logistics support infrastructure now existing in the Subic-Clark growth corridor, as well as the free port's strategic location in the center of the growing East Asian region, definitely gives Subic a solid foundation to gain more investments, attract more trade and weather the current economic storm, Arreza added.

Compared to ten years ago, Subic has come a long way," Arreza said, adding that the Subic Bay Freeport is now home to some 1,100 investor-firms that provide jobs to more than 85,000 workers.

On the other hand, Arreza said that because of the economic crisis today it is important that INAP focus on its fundamental objectives. These include responding to the needs of the maritime transport industry, while strengthening cooperation among members, exchanging information and technology, and conducting regular interaction among members.

For his part, outgoing INAP chairman and current Kochi Prefecture of Japan Gov. Masanao Ozaki lauded the SBMA for promoting excellent investment and employment opportunities in Subic.

"For the significant increase in numbers of investors and jobs created in Subic, I would like to show respect to the people of SBMA for the hard work and generous effort in developing the local economy," Ozaki said.

The INAP conference here also began on Tuesday on another positive note for Subic as representatives of the member-ports unanimously installed SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga as INAP chairman for the year 2008- 2009.

Salonga, who said his election as INAP head is both a personal and professional milestone for him, promised to contribute his "humble share in steering INAP towards, not only survival, but also expansion especially during these challenging times. (SBMA Corporate Communications)



Outgoing INAP chairman Masanao Ozaki, who is also governor of the Kochi Prefecture in Japan, lauds the SBMA for creating investment and job opportunities in the Subic Bay Freeport.






Dancers in traditional Filipino costume welcome delegates to the 10th assembly of the International Network of Affiliated Ports (INAP) at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center. The conference was hosted by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority on October 28 and 29.

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