Cargo traffic to exceed growth target target

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) expects a congestion-free Manila ports in the near term, even as the country’s annual cargo volumes are seen moving closer to pre-pandemic levels by yearend.

The PPA is expecting cargo volume to surpass this year’s seven percent growth target as recovery in cargo traffic remains in full swing.

Data provided by the PPA to The STAR showed that cargo volume as of October expanded by 11 percent to 223.45 million metric tons (MMT) from 201.32 MMT in the same period last year.

Domestic cargo throughput improved 3.91 percent year-on-year to 80.72 MMT, while foreign cargo jumped 15.4 percent to 142.72 MMT.

Improved foreign cargo volume during the 10-month period was attributed to higher inward shipments of mineral fuels, consumer goods, raw materials, intermediate goods, and capital goods, among others.

With the country’s major trading partners continuing to open up their borders and posting sharp rebounds, the PPA said the volume of export goods also improved by 28.7 percent year-on-year behind higher export sales of electronic products and other manufactured goods.

“It is projected that by year-end, cargo volume is at 265.889 million metric tons or 8.98 percent higher than 2020 actual traffic,” the PPA said.

PPA’s forecasted cargo volume by yearend will bring annual cargo throughput near pre-pandemic levels, which was at 266.42 MMT in 2019.

Due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, cargo volume plunged 13.5 percent year-on-year to 230.43 MMT in 2020.

Majority of the drop last year was recorded in the ports of Manila, where 85 percent of the country’s total cargo volume passed through.

The PPA, however, is confident that Manila ports will be free from congestion in the near term, barring any major COVID-19 development, even as cargo traffic continues to pick up.

“With the continuing improvements in COVID-19 alert levels, and with the assumption that no significant risk of port impact from COVID-19 outbreaks, especially in some of the world’s biggest and busiest ports, congestion will not be experienced in the short term,” the PPA said.

Data from the PPA showed that the three Manila ports were operating under normal conditions and were not congested as of October.

Yard utilization at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) last month stood at 66.55 percent, while that of South Harbor and North Harbor reached 61.72 percent and 44 percent, respectively.

“ICTSI has the highest utilization rate to date, but still within the threshold,” the PPA said, referring to the MICT.

Average berth occupancy rate at the MICT as of October was at 51.15 percent, South Harbor at 50.9 percent, and North Harbor at 24.26 percent, PPA data showed.


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