Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Inap to study role of Asian ports

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Members of the International Network of Affiliated Ports (Inap) will meet here on October 28 and 29 for a 10th general assembly, marking the second time for the Port of Subic to host the annual conference.

In a statement, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Feliciano Salonga said the seven members of the network would conduct a series of direction-setting and planning workshops under the theme “Emerging Roles for Asian Ports.”

Among the ports to be represented in the assembly are Subic, the Port of Cebu, Port of Colombo in Sri Lanka, Port of Kochi in Japan, Port of Tanjung Perak in Indonesia, Port of Qingdao in China, and Mokpo Newport in South Korea.

Salonga said the Inap conference is expected to focus on the state of maritime trade in the Asian region in light of the financial turmoil that is having a negative impact on global trade, including the shipping sector.

Salonga, this year’s conference chairman, said the Inap meeting follows the SBMA initiatives to establish higher visibility for the Port of Subic, and widen its circle of partners in the global maritime industry.

“Ports are the traditional gateways to local economies, and in today’s increasingly globalized economy they’re proving to be more and more indispensable than ever,” Salonga remarked.

“With the current economic turmoil experienced by global financial markets, we’d like to come up with strategies to lessen the impact on port operations,” he added.

Salonga said the Port of Subic, which now has a 600,000-TEU capacity container terminal, stands to benefit much from its Inap membership.

Aside from the container port, Subic also has a passenger terminal, which is now being developed by a private firm for cruise liners, as well as several piers used for the transshipment of grains, fertilizer, oil and petroleum products, and other bulk cargo.

Salonga said the SBMA wants to expand Subic’s networking efforts to keep pace with developments in the maritime trade.

Meanwhile, SBMA deputy administrator for port operations Ferdinand Hernandez said that as an information-sharing venue for affiliated ports, the Inap network discusses programs “to help small ports like Subic attain growth.”

China’s Qingdao port, which is now the 10th largest in the world, as well as the modern Port of Kochi in Japan, could very well serve as models for other ports in terms of marketing and technology infusion, Hernandez said.

In terms of potentials, however, the Port of Subic has more advantages compared with other ports because of its location and natural deepwater harbor, Hernandez added.

In the upcoming Subic conference, two other ports are expected to join Inap: the Port of Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia, which will be invited by Cebu; and the Port of Kaohsiung in Taiwan, which entered into a sister-port agreement with Subic last year.

Outgoing Inap chairman Masanao Ozaki, who is also governor of Kochi Prefecture in Japan, will also turn over his post to Salonga, who will then preside over the Inap general assembly session.

Inap was established in 1998 as a forum for consultation, cooperation and exchange of information on expertise, know-how and marketing.

It also endeavors to play a special role in creating environmental awareness, in order to minimize the ecological impact of modern civilization on the environment.

Salonga said Inap is now undertaking initiatives to deepen the relationship among member-ports and to expand its role in the global maritime industry.

The Port of Subic first hosted the Inap assembly in 2002, where member-ports discussed ways to strengthen trade relations and exchange of technique and expertise. Written by Henry Empeño - businessmirror.com.ph

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