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PH cargo traffic unhurt by US-China trade war

Wednesday, 02 October 2019 | 00:00

Worsening trade tensions between the US and China, the country’s major trading partners, have not hurt the Philippines’ cargo traffic, a government official claimed on Monday.

“Business as usual,” Jay Daniel Santiago, general manager of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), said when asked about the impact of the US-China trade war.

“As far as we are concerned, the numbers show that the traffic is still on upward trend especially we’re headed toward the holiday season,” he told reporters at The Manila Times’ Shipping and Logistics Outlook: Spurring Philippine Economic Growth Forum held in Manila.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that exports to the US booked the highest value of $974.36 million, accounting for 16.2 percent of the total exports in June this year. China, meanwhile, was the biggest supplier of imported goods with 22.8 percent share of total imports in the same period, hitting $1.93 billion.

On Friday, stocks fell into the red after multiple US media reports said the White House was considering proposals to de-list Chinese companies from US stock markets, or block US investment in China.

Asian markets were mixed on Monday as investors digested reports in US media late last week that President Donald Trump is mulling severe new restrictions on investment in China.

Despite assurances from the US Treasury that there were no plans to stop Chinese companies from listing on US exchanges, Shanghai and Tokyo slumped the day before a week-long patriotic holiday begins in China.

Shanghai closed down 0.9 percent as some investors took profits, with uncertainty fuelled by fears of an escalation in the trade war that has raged for more than a year between the world’s two biggest economies.

“The Sino-US trade negotiations have been full of twists and turns,” said Zhang Gang, an analyst with Central China Securities. “You don’t know what remarks Trump would make in the next seven days, or what variables there will be from the US side. So, (investors) have set themselves in a low-key, waiting position.”

The PPA had a good first half performance buoyed by increased volume of activities recorded in various ports in the country.

Total cargo reached 128.667 million metric tons (MMTs), slightly up by 3.74 percent against the previous 124.033 MMTs. Container traffic from January to June also climbed by 5.74 percent to 3.84 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) from 3.63 million TEUs.

Christian Martin Razon Gonzalez, senior vice president of International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), told reporters on Friday that the company’s China operations has taken a hit from the US-China trade war.

“Our portfolio is made up of gateway ports, import/exports… and many of these countries are outside of that kind of US-China supply chain. While there has been an impact, the impact has come more from confidence in the global economy as opposed to direct trade impact for those particular countries,” Gonzales said.

ICTSI has boosted its presence not just in the Philippines, but also in the Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

Locally, ICTSI, which saw its shares down by 1.71 percent or P2.10 to finish at P120.40 apiece on Monday, is operating a number of ports including the Cavite Gateway Terminal, Manila International Container Terminal, and Manila North Harbor Port Inc.
Gonzalez, who also attended The Manila Times forum, said that infrastructure connectivity continues to be the key in strengthening an economy.

“It is very encouraging that the government, through the DoTr (Department of Transportation) is spending much time and effort on investment in connectivity and efficiency of the entire logistics industry,” he said.
Source: Manila Times

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