11 September 2012

SBMA task force to market Subic port

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) says it will create a task force specifically to market the facilities of the freeport to possible locators and port users.

The task force, the composition of which is yet to be determined, will have to make its own strategy outside of the measures being undertaken by the private operators of SBMA’s New Container Terminal (NCT) 1 and 2.

SBMA chairman Roberto Garcia, in his speech at the closing ceremony of the Subic Bay Maritime Conference and Exhibit recently, said that the task force is needed to attract more shipping lines to call at Subic, as well as more port users to bring in cargo to the freeport.

“We are forming a group primarily to market Subic to possible users such as businessmen, shipping lines and other stakeholders,” Garcia said in his speech.

“Hopefully, with the task force, we could properly market Subic to both the local and international market,” Garcia added.

At the moment, the capacity of Subic’s NCT 1 and 2, is underutilized with only about 5 percent utilized out of its 600,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) annual capacity.

Aside from the Vale Group of Brazil, the world’s biggest iron ore producer which uses SBMA as its transshipment hub for ore exports to China, only limited containerized cargo vessels are calling at the port.

These container carriers include APL, Wan Hai and Greek shipping line Tiger Lines, which is a joint venture company of Avin International S.A. and Zeniba Shipping.

Subic Bay International Terminal Corp. (SBITC) and its parent, International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), operators of NCT 1 and NCT2, respectively, have already formed separate teams also to market the Subic facility to both local and international users.

So far, their marketing strategy has netted one shipping line, which intends to connect Subic to and from Singapore. However, no timetable as to when the shipping line will start full commercial operations was set.

Both SBITC and ICTSI, meanwhile, have already asked the SBMA to be ready with its incentives for truckers and brokers who will complement the operations of the shipping lines at the freeport such as free staging and marshalling area for truckers and investment incentives for brokers who will set up any facility at the port.

They likewise asked the Department of Transportation and Communications to give Subic one last marketing push to kick-start full commercial operations of the port and realize its dream to becoming one of the major shipping and logistics hubs in the Asia-Pacific region.

Shipping lines, on the other hand, led by the Association of International Shipping Lines, as well as their agents led by the Philippine Ship Agents Association, said the only way to lure more lines to call to Subic is enough cargo volume to sustain their operations.

Otherwise, the shipping lines will continue to shun the port unless the SBMA can provide the base cargo traffic for the carriers. (Jennifer Ambanta, Malaya Business Insight)