DAVAO CITY — Cargo logistics operations are slowly improving with the easing of lockdown rules, but the industry says supply chains remain challenged due to the workload imposed on freight forwarders and the failure of government agencies in charge of approvals for the movement of goods to fully embrace digital processes.

Elmer U. Sarmiento, president and chief executive officer of Royal Cargo, Inc., said while inventories at the company’s warehouses are now “going down,” it is taking care not to take on more shipments too rapidly in order not to overburden couriers.

“This will exert more pressure on freight forwarders… forwarding companies should be ready and prepared for this,” he said during Friday’s online conference on logistics organized by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines-Southern Mindanao Business Council, in partnership with All Transport Network, and the German, British, and Dutch business chambers.

Mr. Sarmiento also noted that flights and shipping schedules remain irregular, which affects both the domestic and international movement of food and other manufactured products.

Dan C. Lachica, president of the Semi-conductors Electronics and Industries of the Philippines, Inc., said apart from the still-unreliable transportation and high costs, there are also problems with delays at ports.

Meat Importers and Traders Association President Jesus C. Cham said some of the delays can be attributed to some government agencies’ failure to fully embrace the digital shift.

“We all know that government has started digital and doing everything online. One of the major problems that we have encountered is still they don’t want to let go, they still want the final process, a final approval… so they don’t want totally to automate the process,” Mr. Cham said. “They still have the final say, and this final say is giving us a problem… and I think we need to look at that and bring it up with the government,” he said.

Erastus Sandino B. Austria, district collector of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) in Davao, said the BoC and other government agencies are actively trying to reduce the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the supply chain.

“So far, we keep the disruption in the supply chain very minimal,” he said, noting that the bureau is now in the final stages of fully migrating to an online portal. — Maya M. Padillo