25 NOVEMBER 2023, MANILA — The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) reported a slight increase in foreign containers handled from January to October this year as global trade continues to gain traction translating to higher exports and imports.

Latest data released by the PPA showed a 1.34 percent increase in foreign containers handled to 4.08 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) during the 10-month period versus last year’s 4.03 million TEUs.

Imports slightly increased to 2.04 million TEUs from 2.03 million TEUs during the period, particularly at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) as well as the port management offices in Batangas and Davao.

Likewise, exports went up by 2.3 percent to 2.04 million TEUs from 1.99 million TEUs, fueled by increases in the volumes handled at MICT as well as the ports in Davao and Cagayan de Oro.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) sees world merchandise trade volume growing at a slower pace of 0.8 percent this year before bouncing back with a higher increase of 3.3 percent next year.

Rising inflation and high interest rates, particularly in the United States and the European Union, would continue to pose challenges to the global economy.

The PPA said the increase in foreign container cargo handled in Philippine ports nationwide partially offset the 15.5 percent drop in domestic containers from January to October this year to 2.13 million TEUs compared with last year’s 2.52 million TEUs.

According to the agency,  the low volume of construction materials and metal products recorded at Sasa Port and base port in Misamis Oriental/Cagayan de Oro and North Harbor in National Capital Region (NCR) contributed to the decline in container volume.

PPA General Manager Jay Santiago expects further rise in cargo traffic on the back of the improving global trade as well as the upcoming Christmas holidays.

During the period, the PPA also reported a 4.6 percent increase in cargo traffic to 227.12 million metric tons (MT) from last year’s 217.33 million MT.

Foreign cargo handled rose by 6.5 percent to 145.16 million MT from 138.24 million MT as exports volume jumped by 11.4 percent to 60.82 million MT from 54.57 million MT, while imports inched up by 3.3 percent to 84.34 million MT from 81.57 million MT.

Likewise, domestic cargo traffic inched up by 1.1 percent to 81.95 million MT from 81.08 million MT.

The PPA traced the increase in cargo volume to higher shipment of coal in Panay/Guimaras, particularly in Semirara Mining and Power Corporation Port .

Other factors to the rise in cargo traffic were increased shipment of breakbulk and bulk cargo in Batangas Port, higher outbound cargoes from private port volume of sand recorded at the Port of Currimao as well as higher supply of coconut oil at the Mauban Port.
The Philippine economy rebounded strongly in the third quarter of the year with the domestic output as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 5.9 percent after slowing to 4.3 percent in the second quarter from 6.4 percent in the first quarter.

Economic managers penned a GDP growth target of six to seven percent this year, slower than last year’s 7.6 percent due to external headwinds amid elevated inflation and soaring interest rates.