More investments in fisheries to enhance export competitiveness

The Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) has underscored the need for the government to invest more in the fisheries sector to enhance its export competitiveness and boost preparations for the 2015 ASEAN economic community (AEC) .

PIDS Senior Research Fellow Danilo Israel said additional funds in the construction and proper maintenance of port and roads infrastructures and cold chain is necessary.

Israel noted that cold chain and warehousing and specialized storage facilities are important particularly to exporters of frozen fish who need these to maintain the high quality of their exported products.

“While the General Santos Fish Port Complex and other major fishing ports have undergone expansion and improvement, including in the areas of infrastructure and cold chain, more government funds should be infused until adequate investment levels are attained,” he said.

Israel said relevant fisheries associations can help by actively promoting investment in such services among its members, and exploring joint venture with partner companies in other countries.

“In addition, connectivity between fish-producing and fish-processing islands should be pursued, such as by further improving roll-on roll-off (RORO) shipping,” he added.

The study identified the inadequate state of fisheries infrastructure and cold chain and problems related to internal transport and logistics among the chokepoints that constrain the ability of fish traders to effectively compete in international fisheries trade.

“While fish trade between the Philippines and other ASEAN countries is low at present, there is hope that if and when the AEC materializes, the situation could significantly improve. Effectively addressing the different chokepoints mentioned will help promote the chances of success.”

Other impediments in the supply chain cited were import or export clearance, certification and permit processes, transparency and awareness of regulations and non-tariff measures.

“With 2015 just around the corner, the government and the private sector must work together to address these chokepoints and prepare the country for ASEAN competition,” Israel said.