Manila Bulletin : Bongbong Marcos eyes PH as next logistics hub in Asia

26 October 2021

By Manila Bulletin

Presidential aspirant and Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) standard-bearer Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. wants the Philippines to become the next logistics center in Asia to hasten the country’s economic recovery in a post-pandemic world.

Marcos said he is pursuing a plan that will modernize the country’s existing seaports, airports, and railways aside from increasing their accessibility to other gateways. He added that investment in this key area will boost the nation’s import and export capacity thus giving opportunities for local industries to recover.

“Our strategic location in the Pacific (region) is an advantage that no other country has. It’s time for us to leverage this and aspire to become a major logistics hub in the region. To achieve this we will need to modernize our existing seaports, airports, and railways or build new ones where necessary,” Marcos said.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) there is an uneven rate of recovery in global trade among nations. Small economies and poor countries in the world are falling behind their peers who are posting double-digit growth rates and exceeding their pre-pandemic levels.

UNCTAD added that one reason for the trend is that countries with small economies are more fragile than larger economies, making the impact of the pandemic even worse. It also forecasts the value of global trade for 2021 to be 20% to 28% higher than 2019 and 2020, respectively.

“Global trade will recover soon, and we as a nation should make sure that we are in a better position to benefit from it. It will be crucial in our recovery since it can help generate revenues we can use to continue programs to help the poor severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” the former one-term Senator added.

Marcos also cited the surging popularity of e-commerce platforms among Filipinos as a strong indicator of the need to enhance the country’s logistics capability. He added that investing in port automation, computerization, and the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be needed to increase efficiency, prevent port congestion and redound to lower shipping costs.

“We are already seeing changes in the spending habits of Filipinos with the rise of e-commerce platforms. This is a trend that was accelerated by the pandemic and is only expected to grow in the years to come. We need to adapt technologies deployed in other ports such as in Europe and even from our ASEAN neighbor, Singapore, to develop our own smart ports,” the former Ilocos Norte congressman and governor said.

Smart ports currently employ shared data platforms, machine learning, and AI to plan and manage key port operations including vessel and truck traffic management, container stacking, warehousing, and transshipments.

Marcos believes that the increased trade achieved by modernizing our seaports, airports, and railways will create a steady income stream for the government and sustain programs that will help the poor affected by the pandemic. (Melvin Sarangay)