THE global economic turmoil is taking its toll on the Philippine shipping industry as shown by the contraction in passenger and cargo growth last year.
Data from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) showed that passenger traffic last year dropped by 1.3 percent to 43.87 million compared with 44.47 million in 2007. Of the total, the number of disembarked passengers stood at 21.52 million and embarked passengers at 22.35 million.
Ships and ferryboats —once the Filipinos’ most-preferred mode of inter-island transport—are losing out to airlines because airfare is cheaper.
Meanwhile, the total cargo volume contracted by 8.2 percent to 144.59-million metric tons last year compared with 157.44-million metric tons in the previous year. Of the total, domestic cargo stood at 71.76-million metric tons, a 3.8-percent decline compared with the 74.59 million in 2007.
Foreign cargo stood at 72.84-million metric tons, down by 12 percent from the previous year’s 82.85-million metric tons.
The PPA said export cargo, which posted a 21.8-percent drop to 26.11-million metric tons during the period, was dragged down the total foreign cargo performance. Import cargo also dropped by 5.5 percent to 46.73-million metric tons.
Containerized cargo fell 22.5 percent to 3.02 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) compared with 3.99 million TEU in 2007.
Domestic container traffic contracted by 4.3 percent to 1.54 million TEU last year from 1.61 million TEU in 2007 while foreign TEU rose 8 percent to 1.27 million.
Ship calls last year were down by 1.2 percent to 310,701 from 314,501 in 2007. Domestic and foreign ship calls fell by 1.03 percent to 301,069 and 6.3 percent to 9,632, respectively.
Joy Maitim, Philippine Shipping Line Association (PLSA) executive director, said that the global financial crisis has begun hurting the industry.
The industry official said the effects of the global slowdown might worsen this year as international trade is expected to contract.
— Darwin G. Amojelar, Manila Times