The shipping industry plays a critical role in the country’s growth and development. As an archipelagic country of over 7,000 islands surrounded by water, shipping offers the primary means of interisland transport. That is, majority of domestic trade is transported via shipping; and interisland travel, particularly in the southern part of the country, is also mostly dependent on shipping.

Taking this into consideration, an efficient and reliable shipping industry that facilitates the movement of products, commodities, and people is crucial to the growth of the country.

Upgrading and Modernizing Domestic Shipping

According to a development plan by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), upgrading and modernizing inter-island shipping will require approximately PHP 45 billion to implement over a 10-year period. This is in support of the Philippine Nautical Highway Development (PNHD).

Under Marina’s 2019-2028 Maritime Industry Development Plan (MIDP), the upgrading and modernization of the domestic shipping industry in the Philippines supports the national government’s PNHD. It also supports Republic Act (RA) No. 9295 (Domestic Shipping Development Act of 2004) and the maritime authority’s mandate under Presidential Decree (PD) 474 (Maritime Industry Authority Decree of 1974).

The upgrading and modernization of the country’s domestic shipping industry is crucial seeing as inter-island shipping in an archipelagic country like the Philippines is a key element for connecting one island to another, expanding market linkages, and promoting economic development in general. In fact, statistics show that inter-island shipping facilitates around 98% of domestic trade, which has an annual average of 89 million tons of cargo in the last five years. Inter-island shipping has also facilitated the movement of over 72 million Filipinos and foreign tourists in 2017 alone.

MIDP: The Key Objectives

The Maritime Industry Development Plan (MIDP) 2019-2028 has the following key objectives:

  1. Upgrading of domestic shipping to support the Nautical Highway Development
  2. Development of shipping services suitable for maritime tourism
  3. Development of coastal and inland waterways transport (CIWT) system
  4. Strengthening of the safety operations of registered fishing vessels
  5. Development of a global maritime hub
  6. Enhancement of maritime safety in the Philippines
  7. Modernization of maritime security in the Philippines
  8. Establishment of maritime innovation and knowledge center

The 2019-2028 Maritime Industry Development Plan (MIDP) is the first comprehensive effort to better understand and address the Philippine maritime sector’s problems and its underlying causes, with the goal to develop and implement programs that more responsively meet the demands of the maritime industry, successfully address specific issues, and seize opportunities in both domestic and global arenas.

Infrastructure Development through PPP

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), which operates numerous ports in the country, is spending billions in support of projects that will complement these initiatives. These projects focus on developing the necessary infrastructure to sustain growth in the domestic shipping industry. They are initiating projects intended to enhance the efficiency, service standards, and capacity of ports, all of which are consistent with the government’s agenda and strategic objectives.

Ports are the country’s gateways to progress, and continuously developing and improving them is vital to the security of the country’s future. To this end, the PPA will be coordinating closely with the appropriate agencies to develop public-private partnership (PPP) deals – subject for review – to further modernize ports.

With millions of people depending on ships to travel from one place to another, and with tons of cargo being shipped in and out of the Philippines each year, the importance of the country’s ports and its shipping industry can’t be understated. As the domestic shipping industry in the Philippines sustains its remarkable growth, we must continually develop and implement projects to revitalize, reform, and innovate for the future.