In order to strengthen and improve the Philippines and Indonesia’s trade relations, a new shipping route has been launched personally by the two nation leaders, Philippine’s Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesia’s Joko Widodo.
Duterte and Widodo on Sunday launched a ferry route that will connect the two countries, the both leaders also witnessed the first trip of the Roll-On-Roll-Off ferry named Super Shuttle which carries industrial products and goods.
Indonesia Chief Executive Widodo, who was in Davao (hometown of Pres. Duterte) with his First Lady Irania for the launch, said he expects the new roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) Davao-General Santos-Bitung (Sulawesi, Indonesia) route will boost trade in the regions.
Widodo also added that he knows the importance of giving opportunities to those in the provinces because he too, like Duterte, was a mayor of a city away from his country’s capital.
“President Duterte and I sincerely believe that people in the outer regions are just as smart, strong and resourceful as the rich people in the capital cities. They only need one thing and one thing only. And that is to be given a chance,” Indonesian President said in a speech.
In his speech, President Duterte said he expects the new Ro-Ro route to boost trade and tourism for both countries on the way to building an integrated ASEAN market.
Earlier before the launching on Sunday, Mindanao Development Authority Assistant Secretary Romeo Montenegro said the ro-ro route will strengthen trade among the four countries comprising the East ASEAN Growth Area (EAGA).
“Expect this to be already setting the tone for a much increased trade movement and movement of commodities not only between Mindanao and the North Sulawesi part of Indonesia but the larger economic spectrum, where we also look at this route as a possible transshipment of products that are coming from Luzon, or other countries that are penetrating North Sulawesi, Indonesia,” Montenegro said.
The Philippine leader said the Davao-General Santos-Bitung is just the first of the many Ro-Ro networks to be formed for ASEAN countries, as promised to attained progress in the said region.
“This route shall be the first of many routes to be formed for the international Ro-Ro network envisioned by our ASEAN leaders to provide more accessibility and opportunities for our countries,” he said.
The newly opened shipping route is expected to cut shipping time of transporting goods from the usual 5 weeks to 2-3 days, reducing logistical cost in the process.
In order to secure the safety from piracy, the Philippine Coast Guard escorted the M/V Super Shuttle, because the route was known as the piracy-prone area, where local bandits like Abu Sayyaf Group. The PCG counter-part in Indonesia also tasked to manned the passing ships in their coastal areas.