Local shipment delays could stretch into holiday season

REUTERS

LOCAL EXPORTER shipments continue to fall behind as global shipping companies prioritize larger economies amid a container shortage in international trade, the head of an industry group said.

Shipping companies are prioritizing the United States and China given the regular and large volumes of cargo along with the advanced fees paid in those countries, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said in a phone interview on Saturday.

“It’s beyond us because it’s a market-driven development,” he said.

Local shipment delays could stretch into the Christmas season, Mr. Ortiz-Luis added.

“‘Yung mga goods sa Christmas, maraming hindi darating diyan. ‘Yung mga exports, maraming hindi ma-ship (The goods for Christmas, a lot of those will not arrive. For exports, many of those will not be shipped). Both coming in and coming out, the boats are limited,” he said.

The global shipping industry has been facing a shortage of vessel space amid the pandemic, pushing freight rates higher and delaying goods shipments.

Philexport last month said 80 out of nearly a hundred member companies that responded to a survey said they failed to ship goods because of the shortage.

Some exporters have already cut jobs because they could not ship their goods, Mr. Ortiz-Luis said.

He said semiconductor trade, which accounts for more than half of Philippine goods exports, is hardly affected because they are delivered through air cargo. Food exports are affected most by the logistics constraints, he added.

Philexport in a meeting with shipping companies last week discussed ports in the US that are facing congestion issues. The industry group is arranging for temporary arrangements for shipping, although Mr. Ortiz-Luis said this “cannot address everybody.” — Jenina P. Ibanez