14 October 2008

Subic Freeport to host int’l ports confab on Oct. 28-29

The Port of Subic will be hosting an international conference of ports on October 28-29, consistent with the thrust of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) to establish higher visibility and widen its circle of partners in the global maritime industry.

SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga said seven members of the International Network of Affiliated Ports (INAP) will meet here to conduct a series of direction-setting and planning workshops under the theme “Emerging Roles for Asian Ports.”

The INAP members include the ports of Subic and Cebu in the Philippines, Port of Colombo in Sri Lanka, Port of Kochi in Japan, Port of Tanjung Perak in Indonesia, Port of Qingdao in China, Mokpo Newport in South Korea.

Two other ports are expected to join this year’s conference, Salonga said.. These are the Port of Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia, which will be invited by Cebu, and the Port of Kaohsiung in Taiwan, which established a sister-port relationship with Subic last year.

Salonga, who will be this year’s conference chairman, said the INAP meeting will focus on crucial discussions about the state of the maritime trade in the Asian region in light of the current global economic crunch.

“Ports are the traditional gateways to local economies, and in today’s increasingly globalized economy they’re proving to be more and more indispensable than ever,” Salonga said.

“With the current economic turmoil experienced by global financial markets, we’d like to come up with strategies to lessen the impact on port operations,” he added.

Salonga added that the Port of Subic expects to benefit much from its membership in INAP since the group was primarily organized to facilitate the sharing of information and technology among its members.

“Our main interest now is for Subic to continue and expand its networking efforts to keep pace with developments in the maritime trade,” he said.

Meanwhile, SBMA deputy administrator for port operations Ferdinand Hernandez said the conference would discuss programs “to help small ports like Subic attain growth and become like China’s Qingdao port, which is now the tenth largest in the world.”

He said the Port of Subic would like to duplicate the well-organized conference prepared by the Port of Kochi, which hosted the INAP meeting last year.

The INAP organization was established in 1998 to provide member-ports with a forum for consultation, cooperation and exchange of information on expertise, know-how, and marketing.

It also endeavors to play a special role in creating environmental awareness, so as to minimize the ecological impact of modern civilization on the environment.

INAP is now undertaking initiatives to deepen the relationship of member-ports and to expand its role in the global maritime industry, said Salonga.

In the upcoming conference here, outgoing INAP chairman Masanao Ozaki, who is governor of Kochi Prefecture, will be turning over the post to Salonga, who will preside over the INAP general assembly session. (SBMA Corporate Communications)