Call Us Now: +1 (669) 221-4085
‘Challenges hound shipping industry’

‘Challenges hound shipping industry’

THE shipping industry faces unprecedented challenges, including the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, high fuel costs and global economic slowdown, the head of a shippers organization said.

Interviewed at SMNI’s “Business and Politics” program, Patrick Ronas, president of the Association of International Shipping Lines, said that during the pandemic, there was a sudden drop in demand for goods, disruptions in supply chains and closures of businesses that affected shipping volumes and operations.

Patrick Ronas (right), president of the Association of International Shipping Lines, with ‘Business and Politics’ host Dante ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA

Patrick Ronas (right), president of the Association of International Shipping Lines, with ‘Business and Politics’ host Dante ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA

“All of us were affected by the pandemic, which has caused a significant volume drop in shipping. Everything was closed down, but we were one of those essential people like terminal operators, truckers and those in the logistic sector who remain on the ground, ensuring that cargoes or containers will be delivered,” Ronas told the program host, The Manila Times CEO Dante “Klink” Ang 2nd.

He said the shipping industry had hoped that cargo volume would rebound to pre-pandemic levels.

In mid-September 2022, the industry hit its 2019 volume. And in the first half of 2023, imports were up by 1.15 percent, which Ronas sees as a good sign.

Get the latest news



delivered to your inbox

Sign up for The Manila Times newsletters

By signing up with an email address, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

The Philippines is heavily dependent on imports, not only of finished products but also of food, construction materials and raw materials.

“We see exports or the commodities carried by ships to be less than last year, which means other countries are not really buying that much. I don’t know if they have an oversupply or if their warehouses are full. Cargo volume has not gone up. It has grown but not as much as we expect it,” Ronas said.

Uncertainties happening around the world, like the Russia-Ukraine war, have dampened global supply chains, he said.

“The global economy got affected; inflation shot up to the roof; fuel costs rose; food prices went up. We now see a marginal increase in volumes compared to last year, which is unprecedented. Usually, we get a 5 percent increase year on year. This time it’s very slow,” Ronas said.

Patrick Ronas (right), president and CEO of Mstar Ship Agencies Inc., Container Bridge Philippines Inc. and the Association of International Shipping Lines, guests on ‘Business and Politics’ hosted by The Manila Times Chairman and CEO Dante ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd.
The news and public affairs program airs at 7 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, on SMNI. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA

Patrick Ronas (right), president and CEO of Mstar Ship Agencies Inc., Container Bridge Philippines Inc. and the Association of International Shipping Lines, guests on ‘Business and Politics’ hosted by The Manila Times Chairman and CEO Dante ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd.
The news and public affairs program airs at 7 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, on SMNI. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA

Patrick Ronas (right), president and CEO of Mstar Ship Agencies Inc., Container Bridge Philippines Inc. and the Association of International Shipping Lines, guests on ‘Business and Politics’ hosted by The Manila Times Chairman and CEO Dante ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd.
The news and public affairs program airs at 7 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, on SMNI. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA

Patrick Ronas (right), president and CEO of Mstar Ship Agencies Inc., Container Bridge Philippines Inc. and the Association of International Shipping Lines, guests on ‘Business and Politics’ hosted by The Manila Times Chairman and CEO Dante ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd.
The news and public affairs program airs at 7 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, on SMNI. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA

Patrick Ronas (right), president and CEO of Mstar Ship Agencies Inc., Container Bridge Philippines Inc. and the Association of International Shipping Lines, guests on ‘Business and Politics’ hosted by The Manila Times Chairman and CEO Dante ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd.
The news and public affairs program airs at 7 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, on SMNI. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA

Patrick Ronas (right), president and CEO of Mstar Ship Agencies Inc., Container Bridge Philippines Inc. and the Association of International Shipping Lines, guests on ‘Business and Politics’ hosted by The Manila Times Chairman and CEO Dante ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd.
The news and public affairs program airs at 7 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, on SMNI. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA

Patrick Ronas (right), president and CEO of Mstar Ship Agencies Inc., Container Bridge Philippines Inc. and the Association of International Shipping Lines, guests on ‘Business and Politics’ hosted by The Manila Times Chairman and CEO Dante ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd.
The news and public affairs program airs at 7 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, on SMNI. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA

Patrick Ronas (right), president and CEO of Mstar Ship Agencies Inc., Container Bridge Philippines Inc. and the Association of International Shipping Lines, guests on ‘Business and Politics’ hosted by The Manila Times Chairman and CEO Dante ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd.
The news and public affairs program airs at 7 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, on SMNI. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA

Patrick Ronas (right), president and CEO of Mstar Ship Agencies Inc., Container Bridge Philippines Inc. and the Association of International Shipping Lines, guests on ‘Business and Politics’ hosted by The Manila Times Chairman and CEO Dante ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd.
The news and public affairs program airs at 7 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, on SMNI. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA

Patrick Ronas (right), president and CEO of Mstar Ship Agencies Inc., Container Bridge Philippines Inc. and the Association of International Shipping Lines, guests on ‘Business and Politics’ hosted by The Manila Times Chairman and CEO Dante ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd.
The news and public affairs program airs at 7 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, on SMNI. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA

The Philippines does not trade much with Ukraine, one of the largest exporters of grain. But, if Ukraine stops exporting, other markets will buy into the markets where the Philippines buys. Supply and demand always come into play.

“We also don’t buy rice from India; if there is, it’s very little,” Ronas said. “If India stops exporting rice, buyers from India will buy more in those markets where we buy, adding that according to recent news, rice prices will go up.”

China, one of the Philippines’ biggest trading partners, remains central to the shipping industry’s dynamics. “We have to manage carefully our relations with China, as most of the products we import, which is about 70 percent, come from China. The raw materials, food we eat, and even US-brand potato chips, are made in China. We have to tread carefully,” Ronas said.

He said global shipping has not been affected by China’s militarization efforts in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), and that there has been “no harassment of private vessels.”

“Ship owners are businessmen. We don’t want conflict. If that happens (militarization), it’s bad for us. WPS is where a lot of ships ply. We can go to the East, but that’s very far. We’re praying that does not happen,” he said.

In an era of rapid technological transformation, Ronas said it is heartening to note that the country’s major port operators, International Container Terminal Services Inc. and Asian Terminals Inc., are embracing digitalization and streamlining port operations.

Two years ago, the shipping industry faced a pivotal moment when the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) implemented shipping line container monitoring, but the mandate overlapped with the Bureau of Customs domain. The truckers, consignees and shipping lines found themselves at a crossroads where additional processes could translate to elevated costs.

The PPA also wanted to ensure the container detention deposit, which is an outright cost. This caused discussions, prompting proactive engagement from the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Transportation.

Ronas said the PPA board has deferred the implementation of its container monitoring policy, but industry players are demanding its revocation.

He also expressed concern over the reclamation projects in Manila Bay. Aside from environmental concerns, the government must also look at the impact of reclamation on ships and Manila terminals, Ronas said.

“As you recover land, where will you go? Either the ships will turn around or go through a narrow channel. It means you need pilotage service for safety and to protect the terminal. It will become more expensive for ships to dock,” he said.

There are also welcome developments such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and negotiations with the European Union. More trade means more cargo for ships, Ronas said.

He is also upbeat on volume growth during the “ber” months, which are the run-up to the Christmas season.

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.