EVERGREEN LINE STARTS KAOHSIUNG-SUBIC ROUTE

Subic Bay Freeport is now the port of call of global shipping company Evergreen Line, a shipping line based in Taoyuan City in Taiwan, after delivering its container vans on Wednesday, April 21, aboard the 1,440-TEU vessel MV Cape Fulmar.

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The MV Cape Fulmar, docked at the New Container Terminal-2, positions itself near the huge gantry cranes on Wednesday to unload container vans in Subic Bay Freeport. The port call made by the ship is the first, marking the start of the Kaohsiung-Subic- Kaohsiung route for Evergreen Lines, the world’s 5th biggest shipping line.

Touted as the fifth largest shipping firm in the world, Evergreen Line operates in 240 ports in 80 countries, bringing the number of global shipping companies using this premier Freeport to five.

According to Evergreen boarding officer Andy Dela Cuesta, the arrival of Cape Fulmar marked the start of Evergreen’s once-a-week rotated schedule from the port city of Kaohsiung in Taiwan to Batangas and Subic in the Philippines, and back to Kaohsiung.

Cape Fulmar, which has berthed at Subic’s New Container Terminal (NCT), unloaded 200 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) container vans and 70 forty-foot equivalent unit (FEU) container vans for companies in Subic and Clark like Yokohama, Lepanto Tiles, and Coam Philippines.

Before it departs, the ship will load 39 containers of products for shipment, Dela Cuesta added.

The Evergreen official also said that some of their customers in Manila are now considering putting up warehouses in Subic, noting the easy access to Subic Freeport via the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx).

The entry of Evergreen in Subic, according to Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Wilma Eisma, “will definitely boost the timely transhipment of goods in Central and Northern Luzon and improve the competitiveness of these areas in terms of the delivery of raw materials and finished products.”

“Time is one major concern of investors and manufacturers in Central and Northern Luzon—their raw materials should arrive on time and their finished products must be delivered as scheduled. And this is where Subic comes in to provide ease and cost-efficiency,” Eisma added.

The SBMA administrator also said that as her administration is keen on increasing container traffic in the Subic Bay Freeport, the agency is actively promoting the Subic as an ideal shipping port, pointing out that it is the only port in the country’s Western seaboard that can accommodate a sizeable quantity of cargo container.

(c) Jonas Reyes

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SBMA BARES PLAN TO BUILD P140-BILLION INDUSTRIAL ZONE IN SUBIC FREEPORT

April 20, 2017

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is charting an ambitious plan to develop an industrial zone as part of a broader P140-billion development project in the area.

Speaking at the sidelines of the Dutertenomics forum held at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay, SBMA Chairman Martin Diño said there are plans for a major industrial zone in an area near the Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines in Subic Freeport zone.

“There’s an area we’d like to convert into another Subic development. It’ll create another 150,000 jobs, with, say some 1,500 locators. In the master plan we’re building for Subic, we want to have roads and access to it,” Diño said, referring to his P140- billion proposed project, dubbed as the Greater Subic Bay Freeport Multimodal Transport, Access and Logistics Support Project.

The project covers four components, aside from the new industrial zone: 1) The creation of two new container terminals in the Port of Subic to add another 600,000 TEU capacity to the existing two terminals and further development of the Naval Supply Depot Compound and Bulk Cargo Port facilities; 2) Construction of a bypass road linking the seaport terminals in the Freeport to the SCTEX including road expansion; 3) Construction of a multimodal elevated expressway from Subic Bay to the Port of Manila; and 4) Upgrading of the Subic airport.

According to Diño, 900 hectares of the 3,000-hectare land to be transformed into an industrial zone has already been allotted to a foreign developer, Dynamic Konstruk Enterprises for an undisclosed project cost.

Two components of the project have reportedly been endorsed by the National Economic and Development Authority, but is still awaiting the approval of President Duterte.

(c) Catherine Pillas

NLEX HARBOR LINK PROJECT UP FOR COMPLETION

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FINISHED THIS YEAR The NLEx Harbor Link Segment 10, which will ease travel from the Manila port to North Luzon Expressway, is expected to be finished this year. —EDWIN BACASMAS

Motorists coming from Manila Port to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) may soon expect travel time to take only 10 minutes via the NLEx Harbor Link Segment 10.

“Once completed, this will ease traffic, travel time will become faster … . This is our first salvo against congestion for this year,” Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said.

An all-elevated expressway, NLEx Harbor Link Segment 10 is targeted to be completed at the end of this year.

“This 5.7-km expressway will decongest Metro Manila by providing an alternative entry to NLEx, bypassing Edsa and C5, which are both congested, as well as other busy streets of Manila,” Villar said.

The P10.5-billion project, which is using the alignment of the Philippine National Railways, traverses Karuhatan in Valenzuela City, Governor Pascual Avenue in Malabon City and C3 road in Caloocan City.

‘Build, Build, Build’

Villar on Tuesday led the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” team in conducting a site inspection of the NLEx Harbor Link Segment 10.

He was joined by Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) chair Manuel Pangilinan, MPIC president Jose Ma. Lim, Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. president Rodrigo Franco, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and Bases Conversion and Development Authority president Vince Dizon.

“Build, Build, Build” is the mantra of the administration’s infrastructure program in which several government agencies are partnering to implement major projects involving roads, bridges, railways, airports and green cities to bolster development and ease traffic congestion in the country.

Featured as one of the big-ticket projects in the infrastructure plan, the NLEx Harbor Link Segment 10 is also envisioned to drive commerce between the Harbor area and Central and North Luzon. It is expected to advance transport logistics and facilitate efficient delivery of goods.

“Metro Pacific remains committed in supporting President Duterte’s infrastructure program. The NLEx Harbor Link will be a great boost to the country’s cargo transport industry as cargo trucks will have 24/7 direct access from the port area to the northern provinces of Luzon and vice versa,” Pangilinan said.

Expansion projects

Lim said Segment 10 “was just one of the expansion projects geared toward connecting NLEx to key areas in Metro Manila to provide further convenience to motorists and spur economic growth in nearby cities and provinces.”

Aside from improved movement of cargo trucks, other project benefits include efficient traffic management and lower incidence of road accidents due to better road pavement.

For his part, Franco said, “motorists who would be using Segment 10 will enjoy the same seamless, safe and speedy travel experience like that of those plying the NLEx mainline.”

Segment 10 is the second and last portion of the NLEx Harbor Link. The other component, the 2.4-km Segment 9 became operational in March 2015.

The NLEx Harbor Link will also pave the way for the NLEx-SLEx Connector Road, which is expected to decongest major thoroughfares and improve linkages between airports, seaports and growth corridors in the north and south.

The NLEx-SLEx Connector Road is expected to be finished by the Year 2020, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The NLEx Harbor Link project started in 2013. But the DPWH said the acquisition of right of way caused delays in the project.
Read more: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/890213/nlex-harbor-link-project-up-for-completion#ixzz4eeI8Eqh4
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(c) Tina G. Santos – Reporter

MOFA TO EASE VISA RULES FOR NEW SOUTHBOUND POLICY COUNTRIES

The Republic of China (Taiwan) will expand or implement simplified visa regulations starting June 1 for passport holders from South and Southeast Asian nations, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In a statement released April 12, the MOFA said the decision was made after an interagency meeting held two days earlier and aims to enhance exchanges and cooperation across the board with countries covered by the government’s New Southbound Policy.
One of the key components of President Tsai Ing-wen’s national development strategy, the initiative seeks to deepen agricultural, business, cultural, education, trade and tourism links with Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, six South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand.
According to the ministry, the visa-free privileges starting last August on a 12-month trial basis to qualified citizens from Brunei and Thailand will be extended to July 31 next year, with the same treatment offered to citizens of the Philippines under a one-year trial.
Citing statistics from the Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the MOFA said visitor arrivals from Brunei and Thailand rose 52 percent and 57 percent, respectively, last year, with the number from the latter surging nearly 92 percent year on year during the first two months of 2017.
Another new measure will allow citizens of Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam who meet certain requirements to apply online for an ROC Travel Authorization Certificate, which allows single stays of up to 30 days and multiple entries within a period of three months.
In addition, e-visas will be granted to business travelers from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka who receive recommendations from the branch offices of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA). Individuals from Bhutan and Sri Lanka will be able to apply for tourist visas to Taiwan.
According to the Office of Trade Negotiations under the Executive Yuan, the number of travelers from the 18 New Southbound Policy countries increased 42.8 percent year on year to 68,000 in January, reflecting the effectiveness of the government initiative in expanding Taiwan’s tourism source markets.
In a similar move aimed at boosting visitor arrivals from these countries, the Tourism Bureau announced the same day amendments to existing rules promoting incentive travel in Taiwan.

 

The measure offers increased subsidies for travel groups from 14 New Southbound Policy countries for stays of more than four days to attend cultural performances and receptions. Groups from Japan and South Korea that stay for at least three days will also receive subsidies to attend cultural performances.
According to bureau statistics, more than 42,000 individuals in 297 incentive travel groups from 10-plus countries visited Taiwan last year, bringing in at least US$27 million in tourism revenue to local businesses. (SFC-E)
Write to Taiwan Today at ttonline@mofa.gov.tw

(c) TAIWAN TODAY

WORLD BANK RETAINS 6.9% GROWTH FORECAST FOR PHILIPPINES

MANILA, Philippines – The World Bank retained yesterday its 2017 growth projection of 6.9 percent for the Philippines but slightly revised downward its outlook for 2018.

The multilateral development bank said the domestic economy is likely to sustain a 6.9 percent growth in 2018 – down from its December projection of seven percent – and slightly easing to 6.8 percent in 2019.

In a briefing yesterday, World Bank lead economist for the Philippines Birgit Hansl said the downward adjustment in the 2018 growth projection took into consideration the external risks confronting the country and the performance of recent economic indicators.

“The revisions from the forecast in December are minor. Statistically, it’s insignificant. It’s just that we have more information now than last year. So as you can see, there is no major change. On the opposite, we see it as positive development,” she said.

The World Bank, in its Philippines Economic Update 2017, said the country will remain among the top performing economies in East Asia, supported by the government’s commitment to increase investments in public infrastructure development – seen to boost business and consumer confidence – as well as “substantial gains in employment and poverty reduction.”

“The World Bank continues to have a positive economic outlook for the Philippines that will be sustained throughout 2018. Infrastructure will have spillover effects in creating more jobs resulting to higher household consumption,” said Hansl.

In 2016, the economy proved resilient to external headwinds, growing 6.8 percent. Consumption remained robust due to low interest rates and expansion in consumer lending. Low inflation and a steady rise in remittance inflows also boosted household consumption.

Headway made in reducing poverty incidence in recent years is also expected to increase household consumption and quicken the pace of poverty reduction, said Hansl.

Unemployment fell to an historic low 4.7 percent in 2016 as 1.4 million jobs were created. Hansl noted, however, that the underemployment rate remains high at 18 percent and has remained unchanged in a decade, reflecting the prevalence of informality and poor quality of jobs.

Poverty incidence among Filipinos also fell to 21.6 percent in 2015 from 25.2 percent in 2012. This represents 1.8 million Filipinos lifted out of poverty within three years.Higher employment, low inflation and improved incomes lowered the poverty incidence, said Hansl.

The country’s growth prospects, however, are exposed to several risks. On the external front, rising global interest rates could weaken the peso and drive up domestic inflation.

 

(c) Czeriza Valencia

BUSINESS OPTIMISM SOARS TO 7-YEAR HIGH IN QUARTER 1

April 12, 2017

MANILA, Philippines – Business optimism in the Philippines soared to a new high seven-year in the first quarter, ranking as the second strongest among 36 economies worldwide, a new global survey showed.

Grant Thornton’s International Business Report revealed business leaders in the country are at their most confident in seven years, with optimism rising to a net 98 percent in the first quarter from 56 percent in the same period last year and 80 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Based on data available since the fourth quarter of 2010, the highest business optimism which the country recorded prior to the latest results was in the third quarter of 2013, with a net rate of 96 percent.

The 98 percent optimism rate of business executives on the country’s economy over the next 12 months placed it second behind Indonesia’s 100 percent.

Malta placed third with 86 percent, followed by India and Netherlands at 85 percent and 84 percent, respectively.

Major economies like the US recorded a business optimism rate of 80 percent in the first quarter (ranking 6th), while China was at 48 percent (ranking 16th) and Russia at 14 percent (ranking 25th).

Japan and Greece were at the bottom with -25 percent and -52 percent, respectively.

The global survey covered 2,400 businesses in 36 economies.

“We’ve witnessed a split between the developed and emerging Asia-Pacific regions for some time now, so it’s encouraging to see the region’s developed economies experience a positive swing in the pendulum. With confirmation of a US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, at least businesses can now begin to manage the fall-out. Many will be looking to see how trade relations with the US pan out in the future and, in the meantime, the corridor to China for exports looks positive as its economy continues to recover,” P&A Grant Thornton chairperson and CEO Marivic Espano said.

For the Philippines, expectation for higher revenues in the next 12 months increased to 76 percent in the first quarter from 66 percent in the same quarter last year. Profitability expectations are also higher at 84 percent from 70 percent the previous year.

Meanwhile, businesses who have cited regulations and red tape as major constraint have declined to 28 percent in the first quarter from 52 percent in the same period last year.

 

 

(c)Richmond Mercurio

ICTSI SUBIC READY FOR INCREASING PORT ACTIVITIES

April 11, 2017

The container terminals managed and operated by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) at the Subic Bay Freeport are ready to facilitate trade between Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines with Evergreen Marine Corp. launching a new direct service at key ports of the three trading economies.

Evergreen, Taiwan’s largest shipping company, is launching its Korea-Taiwan-Philippines (KTP) service in Subic, adding the ICTSI-operated New Container Terminals 1 and 2 to its port rotation.

The inclusion of Subic in the rotation is expected to boost the growing markets in northern and central Luzon, which stand to benefit from the direct trade link to Korea and Taiwan. Aside from exports and imports, the service also offers transshipment for overseas cargo.

“We congratulate Evergreen for the launch of the new service. We also thank Evergreen for recognizing Subic as a key gateway in the Philippines. Our inclusion in the KTP service is a clear indication that the markets of central and northern Luzon are growing, and will benefit from another large global carrier participating in this growth,” explains Roberto R. Locsin, General Manager of ICTSI subsidiary Subic Bay International Terminal Corp.

The KTP weekly service follows the following port rotation: Incheon and Kwangyang, South Korea; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Batangas, Manila, and Subic, Philippines; and back to Kaohsiung. The first Evergreen vessel under the KTP service is scheduled to make its maiden call to Subic on 19 April.

In December 2016, the Taiwan Maritime and Port Bureau (TMPB) expressed interest to partner with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) to increase container transshipment traffic between the ports of Taiwan and Subic. TMPB raised the possibility of partnership during a recent port visit to Subic, which stemmed from SBMA’s participation in the 22nd Philippines-Taiwan Joint Economic Conference last October in Taipei.

The Philippines is capitalizing on Taiwan’s “Southbound Policy” which aims to strengthen trade and investment relationship between Taiwan and countries south of the latter’s territory. This “paradigm shift” opens the doors for the Philippines to capture businesses in Taiwan’s high-value manufacturing, innovation, logistics and transshipment, renewable energy, e-commerce, and financing sectors.

The SBMA has asked the TMPB to encourage industries in Taichung to utilize Subic as the regional gateway.

Taiwan is the Philippines’ sixth biggest trading partner, facilitating around US$ 7.85 billion worth of bilateral trade in 2015. Currently, the Subic Bay Freeport Zone hosts 52 Taiwanese companies with US$ 500 million worth of investments and over 12,000 jobs generated.

Meanwhile, South Korea is the Philippines’ fifth largest trading partner in 2015. In 2014, bilateral trade between the two countries reached US$ 13.4 billion, a number that is expected to reach US$ 20 billion over the next five years. This projection has triggered the increase of Korean investments in the Philippines in the recent years, with construction, cosmetics and food companies looking to invest.

Recently, SBMA has urged local government units around the Subic Freeport Zone to start developing industrial parks to accommodate the growing number of investors.

“All of these developments are inter-connected. We’re now seeing the results of our campaign to promote Subic. We are doubling our efforts to sustain the current momentum to ensure we don’t lose on the gains we have achieved in putting Subic at the center of economic growth in central and northern Luzon. We are ready for more port activities and a vibrant Freeport,” added Mr. Locsin.

 

(c)Port News

THREE-DAY HIGHEST HEAT DISCOMFORT POSSIBLE IN SUBIC AREA UNTIL TUESDAY

Human discomfort from heat is likely highest in the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) area until Tuesday.

People concerned must exercise “extreme caution” against heatstroke and other ailments as the heat index (HI) in this area may hit 37.3°C on Sunday, 37°C on Monday, and 36.5°C on Tuesday, warned the State Weather Bureau, PAGASA.

“We expect no rain and the easterlies are prevailing so the HI there can reach those levels — the highest among major cities nationwide during the period,” said weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio.

PAGASA’s next HI update will be on Monday, he noted.

According to the bureau, HI is the human discomfort index indicating temperature people either feel or perceive as affecting their bodies.

PAGASA said studies show HIs of 32°C to 41°C necessitate extreme caution against possible heat cramps and heat exhaustion.

Given this, PAGASA said continuing activity can result in heatstroke.

Avoid staying outdoors as much as possible, particularly from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. as the temperature in many parts of the country is usually highest during these hours, weather forecaster Chris Perez advised the public.

He also urged people to wear loose and light-colored clothing.

Other experts likewise suggested drinking water regularly to keep the body cool.

If air conditioning isn’t available, they advised people to stay on the lowest floors of buildings and away from sunlight.

(c)Philippine News Agency

PH AMONG ‘WINNERS’ IN REGION IN EXPORT GROWTH

The Philippines was cited as among the “winners” in the Asia-Pacific region whose export growth “strongly outperformed” global demand in the last seven years, UK-based Oxford Economics said.

In its March 27 report titled “Asia globalization winners and losers trade places,” Oxford Economics identified the Philippines, China, India and South Korea as the countries that posted “robust gains in productivity and/or moved up the value chain, gaining global market share in the process” from 2010 to 2017.

Oxford Economics data showed that from 2010 to 2016, the Philippines enjoyed a compounded yearly export growth rate of 7.8 percent, exceeding India’s 5.4 percent, South Korea’s 5.3 percent, China’s 4.6 percent, Indonesia’s 4.1 percent, Malaysia’s 3.7 percent, Australia’s 3.2 percent, Singapore, Thailand’s 2 percent and Taiwan’s 1.4 percent.

Exports of Japan and Hong Kong declined 2 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively, during the same seven-year period.

Oxford Economics said export growth in Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia “broadly tracked” world demand, while those in Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong “lagged” global demand.

“Our winners—the Philippines, India, South Korea and China—are economies that since 2009 have enjoyed robust growth in manufacturing exports and seized global market share in the process. Our gold star performers are economies that mostly started from modest levels of development and wages and generated robust gains in productivity and/or moved up the value chain due to structural changes and reforms,” Oxford Economics said.

In the case of the Philippines and Malaysia, Oxford Economics said these economies “have picked up the slack, buoyed by lower costs of production and increasing foreign investments.”

Oxford Economics noted that the Philippines was the lone Asean-6 country that saw the share of job-generating foreign direct investment to gross domestic product increase since 2010.

Also, it helped that the export performances of the Philippines and India came from a “relatively low base,” Oxford Economics added.

Moving forward, “India and the Philippines should continue to experience strong growth as their relatively immature, or in the case of India, fragmented manufacturing sectors continue to ‘catch up’ with more established rivals,” Oxford Economics said.
(c) Ben O. de Vera