The Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) said Friday that 80 out of nearly 100 member-companies that responded to a recent survey said they are currently unable to ship products due to a shortage of vessel space.

“They currently have products ready to be shipped but could not do so due to a lack of vessel space,” Philexport said in a statement.

“Among them is an exporter of banana chips, virgin coconut oil, coco flour and similar products who regularly exports about 500 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers each month to customers in Asia and the Americas,” it added.

Another company affected by the shipping crisis is a ceramics company that ships out about 30 forty-foot equivalent units (FEUs) of decorative earthenware every month to the US and Europe, the group said.

It said a forwarder of decorative items, furniture, handicrafts and dried foodstuff is also waiting to export 100 TEUs to Europe, the US, UK, Australia, China and the UAE.

“With our huge export market in these regions, it is reasonable to foresee that the export industry will incur huge losses if this issue goes unresolved,” Philexport said in its report accompanying the survey findings. The survey was carried out in partnership with the Export Development Council (EDC) and logistics solutions provider Royal Cargo.

Philexport said nearly 100 companies responded to the survey.

“Survey findings showed that shippers’ top three shipping challenges today are lack of space on international shipping lines (90% of respondents), higher freight rates (56.3%), and lack of containers (45%),” it said.

Enrico L. Basilio, chairman of the EDC Networking Committee on Transport and Logistics, “has called on the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to encourage domestic shipping lines to operate regionally,” Philexport said.

“Also suggested is for MARINA to facilitate the issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience so domestic ships can go ahead and provide the needed regional service.”

MARINA told BusinessWorld recently that some Philippine ship owners are considering expanding their operations to Asian destinations.

A MARINA official said the agency has granted consent for bareboat chartering by Iris Logistics, Inc. and PNX-Chelsea Shipping Corp.

The two domestic shipping companies can now “engage in regional operations,” MARINA Deputy Administrator for Operations Nanette V. Dinopol said in an interview. – Arjay L. Balinbin