28 August 2012

Subic Bay maritime confab ‘hugely successful’

The first Subic Bay Maritime Conference and Exhibit opened on Thursday to raves and tumultuous applause, as more than 500 shippers and shipping line operators attended the launch at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC) here.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto Garcia said that the event drew executives from various shipping and logistics companies from as far as South Africa, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan, along with officials and other stakeholders from maritime-related firms in the Philippines.

“We had a hugely successful opening, and the attendance really surpassed our expectations,” Garcia said of the two-day event, which was organized by the SBMA and co-hosted with the Subic Bay International Terminal Container Corporation, to promote this free port as a maritime logistics and services hub.

Among the industry experts who joined the conference were Susumo Naruse, secretary general of the International Association of Ports and Harbors; Hector Miole, port district manager for Southern Luzon; Customs Commissioner Rufino Biazon ; NEDA deputy director-general Rolando Tungpalan; and Atty. Arnel Casanova, president of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.

The conference focused on the theme “Subic Bay: Asia’s Emerging Logistics and Investment Hub.”

Addressing the delegates at the opening of the convention, Garcia said: “It is especially significant that we are holding this summit now when the window of economic opportunity is open to the Philippines as evidenced by our strong economic growth and the huge interest of foreign investors.”

He pointed out that the focus of the international community has now shifted, “even more sharply,” from the “BRICS” group, which is composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, towards Asia’s “VIP” countries, which are Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The Subic conference, Garcia added, should be an eye opener because the Port of Subic has one of the most beautiful and technologically-advanced container terminals in the whole country, and it is ready and open for business as an alternative port to Manila.

Garcia said the conference brings together the key players in the shipping industry — the shippers from Clark, Subic and Central Luzon, and the shipping lines. “We’d like to get the shipping lines to call and get the key shippers to ship from Subic,” he added.

In the same occasion, Commissioner Biazon, who discussed the policy of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) on trade facilitation, lauded the SBMA for helping the bureau in its operations in the Subic Bay Freeport.

He also announced the automation of the bureau’s procedures, especially the transfer of data relevant to the processing of imports, in line with the thrust for “paperless transaction” to curb corruption in the agency.

Garcia said that the BoC’s modernization program should make the Subic Bay Freeport more attractive to port users because it would help make this free port provide efficient services to clients. (RAV/MPD-SBMA)
SBMA Chairman Roberto V. Garcia welcomes delegates to the Subic Bay Maritime Conference and Exhibit which opened on Thursday at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center.