Trade mission to Manado set

THE DAVAO City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. will embark on a trade mission to enhance ties with Indonesian businesses and drum up support to the new shipping route from Mindanao.

Mindanao Development Authority Assistant Secretary Romeo Montenegro said in Wednesdays @ Habi at Kape in Abreeza Mall that the effort, which the national government is supporting, is part of the efforts to finalize arrangement for trade activities with Indonesia-based companies to fully utilize the new route that is from the cities of Davao and General Santos to Bitung in Indonesia.

The trade mission, he said, is expected to be participated by 50-60 companies from Mindanao.

Montenegro said the products for the front load have not yet been consolidated pending the firming up of agreements between Mindanao-based firms and Indonesian companies. The commodities for back load specifically from North Sulawesi, he said, are now ready, he said.

The shipping route is serviced by Asian Marine Transport Corp. (AMTC) through its Super Shuttle Roll-on/Roll-Off (RoRo) vessel that can load up to 500 TEUs. The route was launched on April 30 with President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Indonesian Consul General Berlian Napitupulu said they are also consolidating the products on what to be exported via the shipping route. He admitted that there was no company from Indonesia that was able to ship their goods via the new route.

“When the RoRo came (in May), they (the Indonesian businesses) were not ready as they were still consolidating the products. Well, both sides actually. Luckily, for your side (Philippines), there is one company,” Napitupulu said.

The maiden voyage was only loaded with Pilmico’s flour, which utilized five TEUs.

Montenegro said they are also encouraging shipping firms to use vessels that are smaller than the ones used by AMTC Indiana the maiden voyage to make the Davao-General Santos-Bitung route sustainable.

“The challenge for now is the vessel. If it is only a 100-TEU (twenty footer equivalent unit) capacity vessel, there will definitely be a continuous movement,” said Montenegro.

He said AMTC is amendable as it may use a smaller vessel for the route. Other shipping companies are also welcome to service the route especially with their conventional type of vessels, he said.

The need for smaller vessel was also pushed by the Indonesian government.

At present, Montenegro said there is still no second voyage for the route as it has yet to reach the desired number of cargoes. To reach the desired figure, he said it should be filled with at least 50% or more of the total capacity of the vessel.

This, he said, is for the shipping company to recover its expenses in plying to and from Mindanao and Bitung in Indonesia.

Kim Pancho, general manager of AMTC-Davao, earlier said the company spent P10 million for the maiden voyage. Of the vessel’s capacity, only one percent or five TEUs were used and loaded with Pilmico’s flour in the maiden voyage.

The total expenses of the company for each voyage, however, is only P4 million, Montenegro said.

“If there will be a second voyage, about 20 TEUs would only be utilized for the products from Mindanao. The figure is still not enough for Asian Marine to recover its expenses,” Montenegro said.

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