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Business

Exporters raise concerns over closure of China port

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s exports could take a hit from the expected hike in container shipping rates and supply chain disruptions due to the partial closure of a major port in China, the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) said.

Liza Leong, vice president for advocacy, communications and special concerns at Philexport, said in a text message that while they are still checking if they have members directly affected by the partial closure of the Ningbo-Zhoushan port in China, the limited port operations could worsen the situation being faced by local exporters.

According to a BBC report, services at a terminal at Ningbo-Zhoushan port were halted after a worker was infected with the Delta variant of COVID-19.

“Not only will exporters be concerned of possibly another rate hike, the closure will lead to further supply chain disruptions,” Leong said.

As it is, exporters are already facing high shipping costs amid a surge in global demand and limited operations at ports hit by a COVID-19 outbreak.

Leong said the price to ship a 40-foot container to New York City in the US has increased by at least 300 times.

Apart from high shipping costs, exporters are unable to ship out their products due to lack of vessel space.

“Exporters are planning on a day-to-day basis since shipping lines can’t commit a space and orders are being canceled already because of the unaffordable freight cost,” Leong said.

She said this would take a huge toll on the country’s exports performance.

While exporters are considering air charters for their goods, she said this is not an available option for now with flights suspended.

Last month, Philexport president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said it may be difficult to meet export targets given challenges which include rising shipping costs.

Earlier this year, the multi-sectoral Export Development Council trimmed the country’s target for total exports covering goods and services for next year to $105.3 billion from an initial goal of $130 billion given the COVID-19 pandemic.

For this year, the country’s total exports are targeted to reach $91.7 billion.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed exports of goods rose 20.9 percent to $35.90 billion in the first half from $29.71 billion in the same period last year.

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