13 November 2014

Asian ports meet in Subic to strengthen regional integration

Leaders and delegates from eight major ports in Asia are meeting at the Port of Subic for the three-day 16th General Assembly and Symposium of the International Network of Affiliated Ports (INAP), which began Wednesday.

The delegates came from the INAP-member ports of Colombo in Sri Lanka, Mokpo New Port and Dangjin in South Korea, Tanjung Perak in Indonesia, Qingdao in China, and Subic and Cebu in the Philippines.

With the theme, “Opportunities of ASEAN Integration,” the gathering focuses on port innovations, as well as mutual opportunities for increased competitiveness, productivity, and cooperation.

The meeting also paved the way for outgoing INAP chairman Gov. Masanao Ozaki of the Kochi Prefecture in Japan to officially turn over the INAP leadership to Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto Garcia.

As head of the host port, Garcia opened the conference, pointing out that the event is very important, not only for the Philippines, but also for all the ASEAN countries that rely on their ports for increased commerce.

“As with the theme, we should take advantage of the opportunities of ASEAN integration and explore the business opportunities each port and host city is ready to offer,” Garcia said.

Garcia added that the Port of Subic is eyeing a major role in Philippine shipping after President Aquino declared Subic and the Port of Batangas as extensions of the Port of Manila, which has long suffered from port congestion.

Presenting the Subic Bay Freeport’s role in the ASEAN Integration, SBMA OIC-deputy administrator for business and investment group Ronnie Yambao noted that the Subic Freeport is being utilized as a manufacturing base and logistics center by local and foreign investors from the region.

He added that Subic, along with other Asian ports, has joined the Asian Cruise Terminals Association (ACTA), which is considered a strategic move to attract major cruise ships plying the Asian tourism route.

“With these developments, the Port of Subic is playing key roles in the ASEAN integration by serving as transshipment hub in this part of the region,” Yambao added.

Meanwhile, Prof. Paolo Jamil Francisco of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) who talked about ASEAN integration, said that the concept is becoming accepted by ASEAN countries and is now being practiced by many investors and manufacturers.

Francisco cited as an example a popular car manufacturer, which produces parts in various ASEAN countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Francisco urged the attending INAP members to cooperate with the government, “co-opete” (compete-cooperate) with other firms, consolidate capabilities and strengths, and take advantage of the challenge.

“While competing with other firms, everyone must cooperate with them on how to improve their products, and meet the required materials and supplies,” he said.

Francisco’s statement was supported by Roberto Locsin, general manager of Subic Bay International Terminal Corp. (SBITC), saying two Japanese companies are now shipping cargoes via Subic as a result of the congestion in the Port of Manila. (RAV/MPD-SBMA)

SBMA Chairman Roberto V. Garcia (middle) links arms with other leaders of the International Network of Affiliated Ports (INAP) in front of the iconic Spanish Gate during the opening of the 16th INAP General Assembly and Symposium at the Subic Bay Freeport.  The three-day conference will focus on port innovations and the promotion of competitiveness, productivity and regional cooperation. (AED)