(The Philippine Star) – May 30, 2021 – 12:00 am

MANILA, Philippines – Exporters seek “very urgent” assistance to deal with worsening supply chain and logistics issues, including lack of space for ships, skyrocketing freight rates and shortages of containers causing shipping delays and huge losses.

In a series of emails provided to the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport), exporters lamented the increasing difficulties in getting their shipments on board international shipping lines to their overseas customers.

In a statement, Philexport chairman Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said this was a global problem that could be out of anyone’s control, but that government and the private sector still had to work closely together. collaboration to find ways to effectively resolve logistical constraints.

“The logistical problem of our exporters has worsened and seems much deeper than what has been brought to our attention,” he noted. This includes the unavailability of shipping space; exorbitant shipping costs and long waiting time, even as market demand continues to improve, especially for domestic food exports.

He stressed the urgency to tackle this problem now “before it turns into a crisis worse than recurring port congestion and an additional obstacle to recovery and jobs”.

A Philippine food and beverage company described the difficulties in securing vessel space on ships, noting that there is “a lot of inventory in our warehouse … where before once we produce we can load in one to two days. The stocks are getting old in the warehouse as it now takes 1-2 months and more before we can ship. Customers cannot reorder because the inventory they previously ordered has not been shipped.

Further, he said that “freight rates are too high” and are almost three or four times higher than usual rates, especially in the United States, and it is difficult to secure ship space for the United States. United, the Middle East and Canada.

Another exporter said Philippine cargoes were at a great disadvantage and were “not prioritized” and “excluded / excluded from any available space”, while freight costs skyrocketed due to the tight market.

What is sad, he added, is that there is now market demand, especially for food, furniture and other products since the reopening of major markets, “but we are still limited by supply chain and logistics issues ”.

The logistical barriers are not limited to exports to the United States. Philexport also received a report from an exporter of fresh fruit whose shipping costs tripled to $ 12,000 per 20ft container to the UK.

To address space shortages for ships and containers, the Chairman of the Export Development Council (EDC) Networking Committee on Transport and Logistics, Enrico Basilio, urged the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA ) to encourage some of the national shipping companies to operate regionally.

He also called for support for bareboat charter by the Philippine Shipowners Association (FSA). He said the FSA can charter vessels staffed with Filipino sailors that can be operated under the Filipino flag.

Relevant exporters, for their part, are seeking dialogues and discussions with industry players and relevant government agencies to find a way forward with their concerns.