DAVAO CITY — A sea transport service linking Kalimantan and Zamboanga is being eyed to boost trade and tourism between Indonesia and the Philippines, according to Indonesian Consul General Berlian Napitupulu.
The Zamboanga Peninsula Region is on the western side of Mindanao while Kamilantan comprises the Indonesian part of Borneo Island.
Mr. Napitupulu, speaking to the media on Thursday during the opening of the 2nd Indonesia Food and Beverage Expo here, said a shipping company from Zamboanga has already expressed interest to operate the ferry service, but a feasibility study (FS) will first have to be undertaken.
“We have to make a thorough FS and they asked me to initiate as I have to learn the statistics of trade. At least we found 15 Indonesian products coming through other countries but if we rely (on) this 15, I think it won’t be enough so we have to accumulate more products. That is why we really have to do a thorough study,” said the Davao City-based diplomat.
The ferry service being considered is for both passengers and cargo.
“They already established service from Zamboanga to Sandakan (in Sabah, the Malaysian part of Borneo) and they would like to extend it to Indonesia,” Mr. Napitupulu said.
Meanwhile, the Davao-Bitung roll on-roll off (RoRo) service remains on hold due to low load factor.
Mr. Napitupulu said they are not giving up on eventually reviving the route, which was launched in April 2017 and made just a couple of voyages.
The service initially covered the Davao-General Santos-Bitung route using a 500 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) vessel operated by Philippine firm Asian Marine Transport Corp.
However, with minimal cargo load demand, the vessel was replaced by an Indonesian-flagged boat, the Gloria 28, with a capacity of 256 TEUs. The Gloria 28 made only one voyage last year.
“Everybody should put efforts in promoting Davao-Bitung route. Let us continue our efforts for all sectors,” he said.
The Indonesia Food and Beverage Expo this weekend includes business matching activities to explore more potential trade ties.
“I have to be honest to you, Indonesian businessmen they don’t know much about Davao and Mindanao, that is why I’m very delighted that this coming expo many Indonesian companies are participating and many Indonesian businessmen will join the meeting. Many of them are first timers,” Mr. Napitupulu said.
He also pointed out the need for the Philippine government to ease business procedures to encourage Indonesian investors.
“They (Indonesians) are willing to come. I think they are hopeful for an ease to some procedures for investment. It would be helpful if they (Indonesians) are allowed to start with smaller amount of money. They are interested to invest here. Based on the standard procedures, they have to meet certain requirement such as amount of money, I mean, it should be lower and also reduce some procedures,” he said.
Another window for Indonesian investors, he added, is to go into joint ventures with local businessmen. — Maya M. Padillo