THE Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) said it signed an agreement with a Japanese industry association to help build the capacity of Philippine shipbuilders.

The regulator signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Japan Ship Machinery and Equipment Association (JSMEA) Tuesday, formalizing the current cooperation arrangements to support Philippine shipbuilders.

“We truly appreciate the commitment of Japan in engaging with us in the maritime industry such as in education, local shipbuilding and ship repair. With its latest technologies and strategies, Japan has been offering the Philippines sufficient machinery, technical skills and effective solutions to problems in our maritime industry,” MARINA’s officer-in-charge, Vice Admiral Narciso A Vingson, Jr., a former Armed Forces deputy chief of staff, said at the signing ceremony in Pasay City.

“…we are confident that this cooperation agreement will aid us in building a solid shipbuilding and ship repair (industry), which will generate jobs for millions of Filipinos, opportunities for partnership and investment between Filipinos and Japanese and provide readily available quality materials for local shipbuilding,” he added.

The MoU will cover the exchange of information on maritime trade, shipbuilding and ship equipment between the two parties and regular dialogues with member companies of JSMEA.

“After the MoU signing… we will conduct a mutual exchange of (information on) potential opportunities with MARINA every year,” JSMEA Chairman Shinzo Yamada said.

Mr. Vingson said the goal of the agency is to continue growing the shipbuilding industry, with the Philippines the fourth largest ship producer in the world by gross tonnage.

“We have just launched it, a 10-year development plan particularly for shipbuilding. Before, we only build ships of about 500 gross tonnes. But now, we are envisioning to build more than that… 50,000 gross tonnes or more,” he told reporters.

“We are building ships for other countries. It is only situated here, but it is owned by multinational (companies)… We just provide the labor force. But if we can encourage our local shipyard to help their own, facilitated by the government, I think we can build our own shipyard,” Mr. Vingson added.

He said with the cooperation agreement with JSMEA, he expects a boost in the capacity building of local shipbuilding companies. “So once we have to start building our own, it’s investment and job opportunities,” he said. — Denise A. Valdez