Clusters, hub seaports to boost exports

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A US-funded business influencer calls on government to develop trading and manufacturing clusters in areas like Cebu and Subic and Clark to help boost export activities in the country. AFP

Airport, port and logistics infrastructure in various regional cluster areas should be developed to address the need of each kind of goods and its trade traffic

The Philippines should follow the success of other countries in developing strong export clusters centered near hub seaports in a bid to become a major exporting nation.

A policy brief on Philippine seaports and shipping published by the US-funded The Arangkada Philippines Project (TAPP) cited as an example of a potential cluster in the Philippines the shipbuilding and ship repair based in Subic.

It said there are three shipyards in the area, with proximity to the Clark airport and Subic seaport.

The paper noted that Clark-Subic-Tarlac-Pampanga-Zambales region has other potential clusters, such as mango production in Zambales, which could develop into a robust trading hub, bringing more frequent ship visits into the area.

Aside from Clark-Tarlac-Subic Corridor, the paper cited other ports and airports where the country could build strategic regional clusters, namely Batangas, Cebu, Coron and Aklan, Davao, PHIVIDEC in Cagayan de Oro, Leyte and Sarangani and General Santos.

While Cebu has many opportunities for clusters in the furniture industry, it pointed out that furniture manufacturers are spread around the city and could be consolidated into a planned area near a new modern port.

“Airport, port and logistics infrastructure in various regional cluster areas should be developed to address the need of each kind of goods and its trade traffic,” it said. “Most importantly, the cluster by its nature must aim to scale up, to lower costs, produce larger volumes and attract larger ships to become competitive in global markets.”

The paper also underscored the need to provide competitive incentives, including fiscal, which will attract domestic and foreign exporters to locate in selected product clusters.
The paper said Philippine principal exports that the regional leadership can study for potential cluster expansion, include electronic products, other manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, woodcrafts and furniture, ignition wiring sets, chemicals, articles of apparel, other mineral products, metal components and coconut oil.It said Thailand offers a successful model of industrial clustering.

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