One of the world’s fastest growing economies wants to be known within the maritime industry for being more than the number one provider of commercial seafarers.
A delegation of representatives from the Philippine government and private sector are in Washington, D.C., to promote that message and convince the Obama Administration and lawmakers on Capitol Hill that US-Philippine partnerships and free trade will pay dividends for both countries.
With the per cent of the Philippines’ population between age 18 and 65 peaking during the next 30 years, the container trades stand to benefit the most.
“We’re going to be a consumer society, and that will continue to drive our trade and our economy,” said Gerardo Borromeo, CEO of Philippine Transmarine Carriers (PTC), a commercial crew management company that deploys over 35,000 maritime professionals on board close to 700 vessels.
Borromeo, one of the delegation participants speaking at a maritime forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington on 29 April, said that the Transpacific Partnership, the far-reaching trade deal being negotiated in the US, could be a major conduit for maritime shipping given the country’s expected 7-8% growth rate in the coming years.
While the Philippines are not part of the 12-country pact, officials within its government are working to lift barriers to participation.
“When we talk about global trade, it’s important for the Philippines to be a participant,” Borromeo said. “When you look at it from the perspective of shipping, shipping will only follow trade. But the (private sector) can only do so much.”
Philippine ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia confirmed at the CSIS forum that the Philippines is interested in joining TPP. It is having informal trade deal discussions with several partnership members.
In the meantime, Borromeo said, the Philippines is promoting to officials in Washington how it plans to build on its already strong participation in the maritime industry. In addition to providing roughly 30% of the world’s 1.4 million seafarers, the Philippines is the fourth largest shipbuilding country in the world behind Japan.
“What we would like to do in the context of maritime is evolve from not only providing people, but be involved in shipbuilding, ship repair, and providing allied services from which the Philippines can be used as a platform for the rest of the world,” Borromeo said. “We’ll be involved in one form or another.”