THE European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) said the Philippine Ports Authority’s (PPA) proposal to increase storage charges for foreign container cargoes will erode the Philippines’ competitiveness in trade.

“We need to ensure the competitiveness of the market, so if you put taxes and more blocks, that makes trade more difficult. It’s not helping,” ECCP President Paulo Duarte told reporters on the sidelines of an ECCP event on Tuesday.

“The current macroeconomic data is very favorable to the Philippines. So that means we need to continue this path, not to create more blocks. That’s our position,” he added.

Mr. Duarte was referring to the 5.9% expansion in Philippine gross domestic product in the third quarter.

The expansion in the third quarter topped the 4.3% growth posted in the second quarter but was weaker than the 7.7% expansion a year earlier.

The Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) sent the PPA a position paper calling for a review of its plan to raise storage charges for foreign containerized cargo presented at a public consultation on Oct. 18.

In particular, the PPA had proposed a 32% increase in charges for import, export, and transshipment containers, and a 150% surcharge on storage rates for refrigerated containers.

The PPA said the fee hike will ensure optimal use of the container yard and encourage immediate withdrawal of containers to keep congestion under control.

Philexport had recommended that the planned rate hike undergo a regulatory impact assessment (RIA), a procedure authorized by the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) Law.

“The EoDB Act seeks to provide a detailed appraisal of the potential impacts of a new regulation and ensure that this regulation will enhance stakeholders’ welfare, with the benefits exceeding the costs,” Philexport said.

Exporters also said they have yet to receive a copy of the PPA’s proposed order, adding that they were forced to rely on information gleaned from the public consultation held last month. 

Aside from the RIA, Philexport also recommended the exclusion of national and local holidays in counting the days to be charged and indexing the increase to inflation since the last fee adjustment. — Justine Irish D. Tabile