THE European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP) said there is a need for more shipping firms in the country to lower the shipping cost.
In a press conference Wednesday, February 12, ECCP-Southern Mindanao Business Council chair Antonio Peralta cited a report from the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) that there are only five cargo companies operating in Mindanao.
He said adding more players in the logistic industry gives the customers options of shipping companies with better vessels and equipment, as well as encourage the players to set a competitive rate.
"The thing here is to open it up to more competition and the one that can really do this is the foreign shippers. I know this will spark some debate but needs of our business sector must not be compromised," he said.
"Perhaps, it is about time that we look into opening up the shipping industry to foreign competition, if only to drive on the point that we need to have competitive shipping costs," he added.
He also cited the assessment of the Philippine Coast Guard that the passenger and the cargo vessels servicing the region have gone old and are unsafe.
He said there are also no incentives given by the government to shipping companies to reinvest in modern vessels.
"The government is not really a big fan of giving incentives because they are in the mode of raising revenues for the Build, Build, Build which we support," he said.
Earlier, Peralta urged the logistic companies to apply for a certification from the International Standards Organization (ISO).
"Maybe, it is about time that they will have joint ventures with these foreign companies or consider the inevitable, to sell out or close down," he said.
ECCP is set to launch a bigger conference in June or July targeting about 100 to 150 businessmen to further tackle the issues of high shipping costs and form policies to lobby to the government.