ASEAN 2015: PIDS prods government to further improve transport and logistics

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The Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) has urged the government to further improve the country’s infrastructure and make the Philippines a competitive hub to tap into the regional and global production networks.

With the establishment of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, the issue of adequate transport and logistics had been a concern by the government and the private sector.

PIDS has recommended three essential courses of action – policy and legislative reforms, investment, and improved governance.

PIDS president Gilberto Llanto and senior research fellow Adoracion Navarro noted that there have been successes in regulatory reforms even as restrictions to better logistics and trade facilitation remain.

Llanto and Navarro stressed that the amendment of existing laws and even the enactment of new laws are needed especially on issues such as limits to foreign equity participation, the movement of international government cargoes only through flag carriers, cabotage restriction, and the port regulator acting as an operator at the same time.

They also urged government to pour additional investments to ease other restrictions, citing the country’s capacity-constrained airports and congested Metro Manila roads and improvements in operations such as in customs administration.

The AEC’s goal of establishing a free trade area will ensure the free flow of goods, services, skilled labor, and investments will depend heavily on the quality of the country’s road, air, and sea transportation.

The ongoing congestion problem at the Port of Manila, which has affected a large area of the metropolis, serves as a stark reminder of the significant work that still needs to be done to upgrade the country’s infrastructure.

Agriculture and natural resources experts Roehlano Briones and Danilo Israel, meanwhile, examined the supply chain “choke points” in crude coconut oil and aquatic produce.

No major choke points were found for crude coconut oil from mill site to export stages, but cost and delay factors were present at the farm-to-mill stage such as low farm productivity, poor postharvest practices and inefficiencies in marketing to the mill.

For sea products, choke points included domestic road conditions, high-cost and inadequate interisland shipping, the conditions in some ports, compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regulations, and the inadequate number of certified laboratories.

Israel and Briones called for road investments, a competition policy in domestic shipping, industry restructuring in the case of coconut, and the adoption of SPS measures in the case of fisheries.

Source: Manila Bulletin