By Bernadette E. Tamayo | The Manila Times
FORMER senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. wants the Philippines to become the next logistics powerhouse in Asia to expedite the country's economic recovery post-pandemic.
Marcos on Tuesday said that should he win in next year's presidential race, he intends to modernize existing seaports, airports, and railways and increase their accessibility.
He said that investment in these areas will raise the country's import and export capacity and provide opportunities for local industries to recover.
"Our strategic location in the Pacific 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," Marcos said in a statement.
"To achieve this we will need to modernize our existing seaports, airports, and railways or build new ones where necessary," he continued.
Marcos cited the report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) which stated that there was an uneven rate of recovery in global trade among nations.
Small economies and poor countries are falling behind their peers who are posting double-digit growth rates and surpassing their pre-pandemic levels.
UNCTAD explained 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.
UNCTAD also forecasts the value of global trade for 2021 to be 20 percent to 28 percent 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," the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas standard-bearer said.
"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," he added.
Marcos also noted the surging popularity of e-commerce platforms among Filipinos as a strong indicator of the need to enhance the country's logistics capability.
He said 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," the former legislator said. "
This is a trend that was accelerated by the pandemic and is only expected to grow in the years to come," Marcos said.
He added, "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."
He said smart ports utilize shared data platforms, machine learning, and AI to plan and manage port operations including vessel and truck traffic management, container stacking, warehousing and transshipments.
Marcos also believes that the increased trade generated by modernizing the seaports, airports, and railways will create a steady revenue stream for the government and sustain programs geared toward helping the poor affected by the pandemic.