ARE WE ‘EXPORT READY?’: Iloilo’s modern port to rise as global trade hub

Officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC)-Port of Iloilo meet with the Philippine Ports Authority and other agencies at the Iloilo Commercial Port Complex last 18 July 2023 as part of preparations for the arrival of the first international containerized shipment in Western Visayas. They also visited areas for international containerized cargo processing. (BOC photo)

By Mariela Angella Oladive

With all the excitement caused by the news of International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) securing a 25-year contract for the development and management of the Iloilo Commercial Port Complex (ICPC) in Iloilo City, one question hangs over our heads:

How capable is the city and province of Iloilo in joining global trade and international logistics chain industry?

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said the city is gearing up to be one of the major players in global trade even as he highlighted the potential advantages of the modernization project for the entire region.

Treñas said determining native products that can be exported via the modernized ICPC is a key sector that must be explored and developed.

“One huge potential will be the products that we can export abroad. Hopefully, together with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Agriculture (DA), we can come up with export products that are agri-based and suitable for international markets.”

Mayor Treñas added that “it’s the other way around,” since the city will have to develop some products for export in anticipation of ships coming from different continents.

Based on preliminary export data from the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2023, the country’s top export was Electronic Components and Parts valued at USD392.53 million (USD1 = PHP55).

Bureau of Customs data indicated that the top exports from Western Visayas, which includes Iloilo City and province, are coal, sugar, cut foliage, virgin coconut oil, raw cane sugar, and marine products (Fresh/Preserved/Frozen)

Another key advantage of the port modernization project is the elimination of double handling, which is expected to streamline trade processes, bypassing congested ports like those in Manila and Cebu.

This is seen to reduce shipment costs and faster turnaround times for goods.

Additionally, the port development project is also poised to boost the local economy. Other than creating export opportunities, it is expected to drive down the cost of construction materials and agricultural inputs.

Among the initial products targeted for export are dried mangoes, pineapple, and furniture.

Treñas emphasized the broader impact of the project.

“This is a very positive development for us, and this will impact not only the city but the province as well. And the whole region (too).”

ICTSI will be developing and managing the ICPC with a total project cost of over PHP10.5 billion.

Upon assuming control, the port complex will be named the Visayas Container Terminal, under ICTSI’s management for a period of 25 years.

The facility boasts 627 meters of operational quay length and spans 20 hectares, designated for container storage, general cargo handling, warehousing, and related activities.

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