by Alma F. Argayoso / Trade Service Officer PTIC Jakarta

Published in Business Mirror

FOLLOWING the successful launch of the Asean Roro (roll-on, roll-off) shipping service between Davao, General Santos and Bitung (DGB) on the eastern part of Indonesia, what’s next for the Asean Roro?

While the establishment of the Asean Roro was considered a major accomplishment of the Philippine government in its chairmanship of the Asean this year, the government and private stakeholders are faced with challenges in sustaining the route, such as low load factor and regulatory constraints.

However, the Interagency Task Force on Roro, spearheaded by the Department of Transportation and composed of government agencies involved in transportation and trade (the Department of Trade and Inustry [DTI], Mindanao Development Authority, etc.) are continuously working in making the route sustainable.

One such initiative was the trade mission to Jakarta and Manado from September 4 to 8 organized by the Davao Chamber of Commerce, the Indonesian Consulate in Davao and strongly supported by DTI Davao Region 11 and the Foreign Trade Service Corps.

The Philippine business delegation composed of government representatives and local entrepreneurs in Davao focused on building networks and partnerships with Indonesian companies in the areas of trading, joint-venture agreements, joint-production schemes and other forms of strategic partnerships in a bid to sustain the DGB Roro operations and expand trade with Indonesia.

DTI Trade and Investments Promotion Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado said, “Sustaining the Roro operations, launched in April by President Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, is high on the agenda of the DTI.”

“We want to see the sustained operations of the shipping service so our local entrepreneurs, particularly our small and medium enterprises in Mindanao, could begin to reap the gains from enhanced connectivity between Mindanao and Sulawesi, and the greater Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asean Growth Arearegion,” Terrado said.

Among the companies that joined the delegation were Eagle Multi Purpose Cooperative, Mindanao Agriplus Corp., Certuso Structural Speacialists Corp., Halal Business Council, Aleson Shipping Lines Inc. and Fastcargo Logistics Corp.

Business-to-business meetings and networking sessions, site visits in Bitung Port, as well as market and company visits were included in the mission’s itinerary.

The interagency task force also met with their Indonesian counterparts in Jakarta on the second week of September to discuss remaining regulatory constraints and focus on efforts to sustain the operations.

Once the DGB route truly becomes operational, the government can then focus on the next route to be formed for the international network envisioned by our Asean leaders in the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity, or MPAC 2025.