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Rising to the challenge of the China Silk Road

Updated

By Noreen Jazul

It’s a beautiful accident that the Philippines’ ports are beating revenue targets just as China is revving up its multi-trillion dollar “New Silk Road” project. It means that the best is yet to come.

 THE FUTURE OF SHIPPING — A member of the team of Chinese engineers and workers setting up the newest quayside gantry crane at South Harbor walks past the upgraded cargo handling facilities at the Port of Manila. (Ali Vicoy/ MANILA BULLETIN)

THE FUTURE OF SHIPPING — A member of the team of Chinese engineers and workers setting up the newest quayside gantry crane at South Harbor walks past the upgraded cargo handling facilities at the Port of Manila. (Ali Vicoy/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) recently reported that, for the first time in nine years, the agency recorded a surplus of P2.3 billion for the first six months of the year, thus speaking volumes about its improved collection and the Duterte administration’s overall effort to curb corruption in areas where it has been the norm.

On the other hand, China has said it intends to lend as much as $8 trillion to other countries in an effort to build a trade and infrastructure network linking neighbors in Asia, Europe and Africa under the New Silk Road initiative.

The Philippines is proving to be a worthy investment, and improvements at Luzon’s international ports are scaling up to meet the challenges of China’s most ambitious stab yet at globalization.

SOUTH HARBOR, Manila
In the vast industry of trade and shipping, foreign contractors believe that the Philippines will sail fast to becoming one of the best ports worldwide.

Mr. Engchuan Lim (Alvin Lim), project manager for Shanghai-based heavy equipment manufacturer ZMPC, said that Manila could compete against international ports in terms of operations especially with new equipment at hand.

On March 24, ZMPC – one of the biggest crane manufacturers in the world – delivered two modern ship-to-shore (STS) cranes to Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI) at the Manila South Harbor.

ATI Corporate Communications Manager, Doan T. Bustamante, said these would further boost the port’s “capacity and efficiency in handling more and bigger vessels at faster turnaround time.”

“Manila South Harbor, as you’d understand, is a premier gateway for international trade. This is where containers are imported and exported from into and out of the Philippines,” he said.

Lim, who heads the team of Chinese engineers and port equipment builders, said two more STS cranes will be delivered to the country by May, and with such reinforcements, he is certain that the Manila port will have a “bright future” ahead.

“With new equipment, we can have better and faster operations; with new technologies everything will be faster than before,” he said.

Lim, who had spent four years in Indonesia and witnessed the upgrading of its ports, said that the STS cranes delivered to Manila South Harbor are similar to the cranes used in other countries.

Lim said this project, part of the P8-billion capital expenditure for the year of ATI, puts Manila’s port a step ahead in its bid to level up.

It also answers to the demands of international trade with the dawning of China’s Silk Road initiative, which revives ancient maritime trade routes through Asia and the Pacific to Europe and the Africa. And the Philippines is right in the middle of it.

Last April, this latest equipment acquisition was commissioned at Pier 3, alongside other development projects like the addition of container yards at the Manila South Harbor Expanded Port Zone. Bustamante said these form part of ATI’s investment commitment with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

In the latest figures released by ATI, South Harbor recorded its highest midyear container volume this year, accommodating over 560,000 twenty-foot equivalent (TEUs) of foreign shipments from January-June, 2018. This translates to a 5-percent increase in volume than in the same period last year.

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