By HENRY EMPEÑO
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has lauded the entry here of the global shipping line Evergreen, saying it will increase the economic competitiveness of manufacturers and producers in the Central and Northern Luzon regions.
SBMA Administrator Wilma Eisma, whose administration sought to further increase container traffic at the New Container Terminal (NCT) 1 & 2 here, welcomed on Wednesday the arrival of Evergreen with the docking of M/V Cape Fulmar, the first cargo vessel that sailed the Kaohsiung to Subic route.
Evergreen Line, which is based at Taoyuan City in Taiwan, is the world’s fifth biggest shipping firm and operates in 240 ports in 80 countries worldwide.
Eisma said the new Kaohsiung-Subic route “will definitely boost the timely transhipment of goods in Central and Northern Luzon and improve the competitiveness of these areas in terms of the delivery of raw materials and finished products.”
“Time is one major concern of investors and manufacturers in Central and Northern Luzon—their raw materials should arrive on time and their finished products must be delivered as scheduled. And this is where Subic comes in to provide ease and cost-efficiency,” Eisma observed.
She added that as her administration seeks to increase container traffic in the Subic Bay Freeport and actively promotes Subic as an ideal shipping port, “the arrival of Evergreen is a major development for Subic.”
M/V Cape Fulmar, which docked at Subic’s NCT-2, unloaded on Wednesday 200 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) container vans and 70 forty-foot equivalent unit (FEU) container vans for companies in Subic and Clark like Yokohama, Lepanto Tiles, and Coam Philippines.
According to Evergreen boarding officer Andy Dela Cuesta, the arrival of Cape Fulmar marked the start of Evergreen’s once-a-week rotated schedule from the port city of Kaohsiung in Taiwan to Batangas and Subic in the Philippines, and back to Kaohsiung.
The vessel was also scheduled to load 39 containers of products for shipment before it leaves Subic, Dela Cuesta said.
Evergreen is the fifth major shipping company to operate in the Subic Bay Freeport, which is being promoted as an ideal transhipment port as it is the only port in the country’s Western seaboard that can accommodate a sizeable quantity of cargo containers.
The other lines that have connected to Subic are the Singapore-based American President Lines (APL), which is based in Singapore; Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) of Japan; Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) also of japan; SITC Container Lines of China; and Wan Hai Lines, also of Taiwan.
Eisma said that the arrival of Evergreen bodes well for Subic as it increases the free port’s attractiveness as a strategic transhipment hub in Asia and the Pacific, and boosts Taiwan-Philippine trade at the same time.
The SBMA official pointed out that Taiwan is now among the country’s biggest trading partners, with around $7.85 billion worth of bilateral trade in 2015.
On the other hand, more than 50 Taiwanese companies with $500 million worth of investments are now operating in the Subic Freeport, she added.
Meanwhile, Evergreen’s Dela Cuesta said that some of their customers in Manila are now considering putting up warehouses in Subic to take advantage of the easy access to the Freeport via the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx).
PHOTO: Cargo trucks make a beeline for the quay as MV Cape Fulmar begins unloading cargo at Subic’s NCT-2 on Wednesday. The arrival of the 1,440-TEU cargo vessel marked the start of a Kaohsiung-Subic- Kaohsiung route for Evergreen Lines, the world’s 5th biggest shipping line. (Photo by Jun Dumaguing)