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Philippines, Indonesia open Mindanao-Indonesia RoRo shipping network

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte and his Indonesian counterpart President Joko Widodo led the launching ceremony Sunday, April 30 of the ASEAN Davao-General Santos-Bitung RoRo Shipping Network aimed at boosting trade, tourism and investments.
“As we open this new maritime trade route, we reaffirm our ties with each other and commit ourselves to aspirations of the larger ASEAN Community,” President Duterte said during the launch at Kudos Port, Sasa, Davao City.
“This route shall be the first of the many routes that will form the international RORO network envisioned by our fellow ASEAN leaders to provide greater accessibility and open more opportunities for our countries,” he added.
The President said that when he visited Indonesia in September last year, one of the most important commitments he forged with President Widodo was the opening of the ASEAN Roll-On, Roll-Off route between the Philippines and Indonesia.
The ASEAN RoRo Shipping Network, which will cross the cities of Davao and General Santos in Mindanao and Bitung in North Sulawesi, will not only connect the Philippines physically with the rest of ASEAN but it will also integrate the two archipelagos with the rest of the region.
He said they are hopeful that by opening new ports and exploring possible new routes, trade, tourism and other areas of development among ASEAN member-states will be stimulated further.
The route will significantly reduce the shipping time of transported goods from the usual five weeks to just two or three days, the President said noting the lower logistical cost for transportation will drive competition, attract new players and increase the demand for jobs.
“This will not just strengthen intra-regional maritime connectivity among ASEAN members. It will also introduce new opportunities for trade expansion with larger and emerging economies outside our region,” he said.
As part of the larger ASEAN RoRo Shipping Network, the route will help ASEAN realize its collective goal of creating an integrated regional market and will complement its own domestic infrastructure modernization program, he stressed.
To realize this, the President encouraged the private sector to play its part in harnessing the potentials of this new RoRo network.
By promoting this route, private businesses do not only take advantage of the opportunities, but also contribute to the sustainability of this entire regional shipping network, he said.
President Duterte also thanked President Widodo and the Indonesian government as well as the private sector for their support to make the first ASEAN Roll-On, Roll-Off route possible.
With the opening of the route, a roll-on roll-off service will begin plying the Davao City-General Santos City-Bitung route on 30 April 2017 providing faster and cheaper channel of trading goods among the East ASEAN Growth Area (EAGA).
M/V Super Shuttle RoRo 12, operated by the Asian Marine Transport Corp. will provide a weekly shipping service to the route with a vessel capacity of 500 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs).
The opening of the route is a more cost and time efficient alternative to the usual Manila to Jakarta to Bitung route, which would take about three to five weeks of shipping time.
A savings up to $1,500 (P74,000) per TEU is estimated in using the route given its $700 (34,713) per TEU rate per 20 feet dry container as compared to using the Davao-General Santos to Manila to Manado via Jakarta route, which amounts to $2,200 (P109,098) per TEU.
The goods from Mindanao that will be shipped to Indonesia include animal feeds, fertilizer, construction materials, ice cream products, poultry, fresh fruits, and synthetics.
Imports from Indonesia on the other hand will be matured coconut, copra, corn, feed ingredients, lumber, cement, high value crops, vegetables, meat, peanuts, aqua products, charcoal, soya, coffee beans, and sugar.
The RoRo route will be beneficial to Mindanao as it improves the competitiveness of the products coming from the region, which has been gaining interest within the sub-region.
It will also provide a more efficient access for local businessmen to engage in trading with their Indonesian counterparts.
A study conducted by the Research Education and Institutional Development Foundation through the US Agency for International Development in 2010 revealed that the North Sulawesi-Mindanao sea link offers strong potentials for international trade and commerce between Indonesia and the Philippines since it offers a proximate channel for the shipment of goods.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.