MANILA, Philippines – Congestion at the Manila port may force suppliers to cut volume by half in order to reduce costs, according to Mary Zapata, president of the Aduana Business Club Inc.
Zapata said that while the port congestion has been affecting essential, non-essential, and luxury items, the worst-hit are imported fruits and vegetables.
“Ang pinakamalaking apektado ngayon ay ‘yung mga importations via reefer container kasi ‘yan ‘yung mga malalaking expenses na nai-incur habang nate-tengga sila sa loob ng port,” she told dzMM on Tuesday.
Reefer containers maintain either frozen, chilled, or warm temperature commonly used for produce.
She said what's alarming is that some vendors in Divisoria have been complaining of reduced sales recently. Compounded with the port congestion, this may discourage importers to continue business in the country.
It may also raise prices of imported goods as the Christmas season nears.
However, Zapata said that while port congestion persists, it may be time for local producers of food items, particularly canned goods, “to shine in lieu of the imported ones.”
Zapata also urged authorities to immediately address the port congestion in Manila because it is also affecting the manufacturing sector and employment in factories across the country.
“What we are trying to do is ma-draw namin ang awareness ng publiko at mga people in the economic team of the Aquino administration na sana ito ay solbahin at bigyan ng atensyon ASAP, at huwag ma-mislead kung ano ba talaga ang problema sa puerto na nagko-cause ng port congestion,” she said.
Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, meanwhile, said the port congestion problem will persist throughout the rest of the year, especially with the expected jump in imports in the run-up to the Christmas season.
He said the situation is likely to return to normal only around January next year.