PCG embarks on maritime safety training

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has embarked on cross-training programs with partner services and maritime nations in the areas of maritime safety and security and marine environmental protection.

In line with the directive of Pres. Benigno C Aquino III for all government agencies to integrate their efforts and strengthen inter-agency cooperation, PCG has partnered with the 4th Special Forces Battalion and the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines for the conduct of joint training on maritime law enforcement and life saving in Zamboanga City.

 The training was participated by 15 members PCG’s Special Operations Group and 15 personnel of the Riverine Unit of the 4th Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army.

PCG has shared their personnel expertise in basic water survival, navigation, scuba refresher training, recompression chamber operations, boarding procedures, rules of engagement and legal aspects of maritime law enforcement.

On the other hand, the AFP shared their expertise in combat life saving techniques, small unit tactics, marine interdiction operations and basic close quarter combat, while the US contingent shared their knowledge and skills on underwater demolition and post blast investigation.

 Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo has directed the search and rescue vessel, BRP EDSA-II fitted with a recompression chamber and complemented with a medical doctor onboard to participate and serve as a training platform in Zamboanga.

Commander Artemio Abu is the commanding officer of BRP EDSA II (SARV 002) which is under the operational control of Coast Guard District South Eastern Mindanao under the command of Commodore Rodolfo Isorena.

Lina joins PAL board as independent director

The board of directors of the Philippine Airlines (PAL) has elected Alberto Lina as an independent director of the airline’s 15-man board during the recent annual stockholders meeting held at Century Park Hotel.

Other members of the board are Lucio C. Tan, Harry C. Tan, Antonio L. Alindogan, Jr., Jaime J. Bautista, Charles C. Chante, Enrique Cheng, Joseph T. Chua, Gloria Tan-Climaco, Estelito P. Mendoza, Cesar N. Santos, Henry So Uy, Washington SyCip, Lucio K. Tan, Jr. and Michael G. Tan.

Dr. Lucio C. Tan was re-elected chairman and chief executive officer while Harry C. Tan remained vice chairman and treasurer. Jaime J. Bautista was also reappointed PAL president and chief operating officer.

“Bert Lina’s experience in air travel and logistics solutions will hopefully provide a fresh perspective at how we can address current challenges,” said PAL President Jaime Bautista. Lina currently heads his own conglomerate – the Lina Group of Companies which includes among others Airfreight 2100 Inc., U-Freight, Cargohaus, LGC Logistics and Mail & More.

CFIP to partner with DOT in promoting exports

Philippine furniture makers are eyeing a partnership with the Department of Tourism (DOT) in a bid to promote local products to more foreign buyers crucial in increasing export revenues.

Emmanuel P. Padiernos, vice president for market development of Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines (CFIP), said most of their foreign buyers are potential tourists.

“DOT may extend some tourist assistance or reward hotel accommodation to some buyers. DOT and CFIP may have joint promo abroad,” he stressed.

Padiernos said the DOT may also require new hotels to use Philippine-made furniture and not imported ones.

He noted that these joint measures are expected to promote local furniture and could help improve their sales and increase the sectors share to total exports.

Woodcrafts and furniture ranked fifth in merchandise exports in June 2010 with receipts up by 4.8 percent to $88.63 million. However, its share to total export receipts was measly two percent.

“Electronics is still the biggest dollar earner. Revenues are going up, but our problem is marketing because we have three international shows in the country,” said Padiernos.    

He earlier lamented that competitors in the region like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore got subsidies from their governments when they promote their products abroad.

For her part, Rashmi Tolentino-Singh, vice president for industry relations of the CFIP, underscored the need for the government and the private sector to work together to promote Philippine goods.

“For exporters, we have to maintain our presence in the global market. We need government support for trade show participation otherwise, people will forget about us,” she said.

Bright prospects for emerging markets

While export prospects in many developed countries tend to sway from bleak to bleaker, those in emerging country markets are shining brighter than ever.

This is particularly true in four of the world’s largest emerging markets Brazil, Russia, India and China – as well as the ASEAN markets, especially Indonesia and Vietnam.

Based on the Philppine International Trade Center data, world imports expanded by 17 percent while imports of Brazil, Russia, India and China grew by 73 percent, 63 percent, 17 percent and 52 percent, respectively during period 2005-2009.

Meanwhile, ASEAN countries such as Vietnam (91%) and Indonesia (68%) also registered significant growth rates during the said period.

Much of the expansion in imports of these emerging market economies can be traced to products of export interest to the Philippines such as furniture, pearls, edible fruits, apparels and fish and crustaceans.

Articles of apparel and knitted fabric enjoy gargantuan demand in these markets. Brazil’s, Indonesia’s and Russia’s imports of articles of apparel more than tripled while those of Vietnam increased eleven-fold.

The demand of these emerging markets for knitted fabric was even higher. Imports of knitted fabric by Brazil and Indonesia registered an eight-fold and a ten-fold expansion, respectively.

In 2009, Brazil’s and Indonesia’s imports of crocheted fabric were valued at $338 million and $628 million, respectively. 

Imported edible fruits are also in great demand in these markets. Vietnam’s imports of said product nearly tripled while it is expanding substantially in China, Brazil, Russia and Indonesia.

Russia and Indonesia are increasingly becoming important markets for pearls and precious stones with their imports of the same more than quadrupled. Demand prospects for imported pearls in China and Brazil appear to be also sanguine, with their imports growing by over 50 percent.

Adding to the array of products that are hugely demanded in emerging markets are furniture, fish and crustaceans. Furniture imports of China, Brazil, Russia and Indonesia rose by over 100 percent, while those of Vietnam more than tripled.

Meanwhile, Indonesia’s imports of fish and crustaceans quadrupled while those of Vietnam and Brazil grew by over 100 percent.

Stock market on cautious trading

Philippine stock market investors would likely go for a bargain hunting on a cautious trading following Friday’s profit taking.

BPI Securities noted that the volume of trading increased by P813 million to P4.6 billion with the blocked sales from Philex Mining and PLDT.

Economic reports stunned the market following a7.95  growth in GDP for the second quarter of the year driven by the surged in construction, manufacturing, exports and investments.

The most active stocks were Banco de Oro, PLDT,  DMC, PNB, Megaworld, BPI, and SM. Declines outnumbered the gains 92 to 33 while 39 unchanged.

Week on week, the PSEi dropped 34 points or 0.98%. BPI says investors are awaiting for some catalysts that would trigger a bullish sentiment.

Analysts are watching the US economic indicators such as personal income, ISM manufacturing index, pending homes sales and employment situation.

Despite the strong economic data and the impressive earnings by companies, the local stock market is not assured of continued upward movement this week, according to analyst Prince Anthony Yeung of AB Capital Securities.

Yeung believes the direction the PSEi would most likely depend on the direction the DOW takes. Should the DOW stay and move further below 10,000 then the local stock market will follow suit.

“If this happens, stocks in the property sector are the most vulnerable to profit taking because they are the stocks that have moved the most upward recently.”

“However, since such a correction will be due to outside forces, it will be a buying opportunity since the fundamentals of the companies will not have changed.”

On the other hand, if the DOW manages to creep back and stay above 10,000 then it will allow the PSEi to run its natural uptrend due to the positive backdrop of the local economy, says Yeung.

“With the weakness of the latest economic data coming from the US, it seems more probable that the DOW will stay below 10,000 as caution will most likely be the prevailing mood.”

Support can be found at 3,530, but that can be broken if the DOW moves much further south of 10,000.

Yeung noted that average trading value last week was slightly above P4 billion. However, trading activity was trending lower.

“The strength of the local stock market on Monday was accompanied by one of the busiest trading days this year but trading activity, although still higher than the year to date average, slowed down towards the end of the week.”

Yeung says the backlash of the hostage incident on the market was largely a one day thing even if the event is still hogging the headlines.

PAL waives rebooking penalty issued to Hong Kong tourists

Philippine Airlines (PAL) is waiving the rebooking penalty on tickets issued in Hong Kong for those intending to fly back ahead of schedule, as a result of the travel advisory issued by Hong Kong authorities.

Visiting Hong Kong nationals who are heeding the travel advisory will not be penalized with any pertinent fees or charges when they present their tickets for rebooking or taking an earlier flight back to Hong Kong. Tickets must have been issued in Hong Kong.

PAL said that tickets may be rebooked by calling PAL’s 24-hour hotline 855-8888 or visiting any PAL ticket office in Metro Manila or provincial stations.

Earlier, PAL offered complimentary round-trip tickets for the relatives of those killed or injured at Monday’s tragic hijacking of a tourist bus in Manila. PAL will provide two priority tickets for the relatives of every victim.

Dina Mae Flores, PAL’s country manager in Hongkong, will facilitate any request for the free tickets from the victims’ families who must be able to show proof of relations to the victims.

Filipino exporters urged to tap China’s $954-billion minerals market

What can the Philippines sell to the world’s second largest economy? The question is being posed by most Filipino exporters who have not made a beach-head on mainland China, now rated the second biggest economy in the world, next to the United States, and nosing out Japan.

Several products which are considered in demand in China are mineral products like gold, copper, silver, chromite and nickel, of which the Philippines is richly endowed, as one of the most promising.

Minerals and fuels make up 11 percent of China’s yearly import bill last estimated at $954 billion or close to a billion.

In the case of mineral products, the growing Chinese demand is already felt ion the aggressive stance some Chinese exploration companies have been putting on stakes in mining projects in the Philippines.

The main obstacle to success in this area lies in known local resistance to mining projects that are yet to be proven environmentally-friendly.

Machinery and transport equipment also place in China’s top 10 imports. Although the country does not produce big volumes of vehicles and heavy machinery, it does export automotive parts and may have a niche in the Chinese market.

Another top import fall in the category of non-edible raw materials in which coconut choir, dried seaweeds, which are already exported in limited quantities, fall under. There is, however, a dearth of detailed information on what other raw materials China requires that could be produced in abundance in the Philippines.

China also imports huge quantities of pork and fruits.  The lack of information on what specific products to sell to China is equally true with other new free trade agreement partners the country like South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

NEDA cites importance of public-private partnership

The Philippine National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has underscored the importance of public-private Partnerships (PPPs) as a mechanism that can address the financial needs of infrastructure and services of national and local governments.

“NEDA views PPPs as an alternative way for local government units (LGUs) to effectively and efficiently deliver basic services,” said Socioeconomic Planning Sec. Cayetano Paderanga Jr. in a recent meeting with NEDA regional officials.

Sec. Paderanga said that NEDA will provide a checklist or template to help LGUs get into PPP-type arrangements in delivering basic services.

“With LGUs being at the forefront in local development, it is important that the options available for the implementation and financing of local initiatives are clear to them,” he said.

Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III, in his State of the Nation Address, identified PPPs as a strategy to finance government projects like infrastructure and basic services through the assistance of the private
sector.

Paderanga also stressed the need to link  multimodal transport systems among identified growth centers in the regions that could facilitate PPP projects in the areas.

“Addressing transportation gaps and completing the whole transport infrastructure towards these centers should be prioritized as these will help lessen the cost of doing business in the country,” he explained.

Multimodal transport systems involve air, sea and road transportation modes within and between islands of the country.

“It is important that the LGUs have already pre-identified projects for PPP, so that the more transparent solicited mode of procurement will be undertaken,” Paderanga said.

NEDA is also currently crafting a National Transport Plan that will give policy directions for a complete network of transport infrastructure that will ease economic integration between and among regional growth centers.

“In the long run, it will open up areas in the periphery to economic activities and promote development in more vicinities of the country,” Paderanga added.

Cebu Pacific Airways offers seat sale

Cebu Pacific Airways (CEB) has offered low fares in a seat sale for all international flights out of Cebu until August 30, 2010 for travel from October 1 to November 30.

The airline said that those who wish to travel from Cebu to Hong Kong and Singapore can avail of P1,999 ‘Go Lite’ seat sale fares. Meanwhile, P2,499 ‘Go Lite’ seats are up for grabs for Cebu-Busan and Cebu-Seoul (Incheon).

Passengers with check-in luggage will just add P100 upon booking.  “We began operating our Cebu-Hong Kong and Cebu-Singapore services in 2006, and it has given a lot of travelers the convenience of direct flights. Our flights to South Korea are also popular because of the direct service,” said CEB VP for Marketing and Distribution Candice Iyog.

“CEB remains consistent in offering our trademark low fares to our international routes from Cebu, especially with this seat sale. We encourage every Juan to book early to take advantage of our extensive network in Asia,” she added.

CEB flies from Cebu to Hong Kong daily, to Singapore daily starting October 31, 2010, to Seoul (Incheon) daily, and to Busan twice weekly.

Philippine imports surge 28% in first half

Philippine  imports continued its upswing with a 28.5 percent growth in the first half of 2010 to $26.1 billion from $20.3 billion compared to the same period last year.

The National Statistics Office (NSO) reported that total external trade for the first half reached $49.906 billion, a 32.7 percent growth from $37.604 billion registered during the same period in 2009.

Export receipts posted an increase of 37.7 percent to $23.7 billion in January to June of 2010 from $17.2 billion during the same period in 2009.

 The balance of trade in goods posted a deficit of $2.4 billion during the six-month period in 2010, a value lower than the $3.1 billion deficit in the same period last year.

Combined import and export merchandise trade for June 2010 improved by 16.1 percent to $8.72 billion from $7.514 billion in June 2009.

Total merchandise imports increased at 1.4 percent to $4.166 billion from $4.107 billion in June 2009. Total exports, on the other hand, rose by 33.7 percent to $4.555 billion from $3.407 billion in June 2009.

The balance of trade in goods in June 2010 posted a surplus of $389.00 million compared to last year’s recorded deficit of $700.00 million.

On a month-on-month basis, total imports for June 2010 declined by 12.4 percent from $4.753 billion recorded in May 2010.

Import bill for electronic products in June 2010 amounted to $1.4 billion, up by 4.3 percent over last year’s figure of $1.385 billion.

On a monthly basis, it decreased by 5.5 percent from $1.529 billion recorded in May 2010. Among the major groups of electronic products, semiconductors having the biggest share of 26.6 percent, advanced by 5.5 percent to $1.110 billion from $1.052 billion in June 2009.

Imports of mineral fuels in June 2010 ranked second with 17.2 percent share and posted a negative growth of 16.4 percent from $854.96 million to $714.60 million in June 2010.

Transport equipment, the country’s third top imports for the month with 6.0 percent share to total imports at $250.02 million, up by 29.0 percent from the previous year’s level of $193.88 million.

Industrial machinery and equipment, contributing 4.8 percent to the total import bill, was the fourth top import for the month with payments placed at $199.71 million, an increase of 50.8 percent from last year’s level of $132.45 million.