Study on Subic-Clark-Batangas logistics corridor completed

MANILA, Philippines - The pre-feasibility study leading to the drawing up of a master plan making the Subic-Clark-Batangas corridor into a logistics corridor that positions Luzon as an international transshipment point in Asia has been completed.

This was announced the other day by National Competitiveness Council (NCC) private sector chairman Cesar Bautista.

Ambassador Bautista said the initial study lays down the term of reference and scope of a more detailed study whose main output is a master plan for a seamless intermodal logistics corridor across the three fastest growing regions in Luzon.

The master plan will take another one and a half year to complete, Bautista said.

“The Subic-Clark-Batangas region, despite its considerable potential for being the principal logistics hub in the country, has experienced very limited growth due to inefficient logistics operations. As such, an integrated logistics program aimed specifically at increasing trade volumes, agricultural production as well as the diversification of economic activities is needed. This now comes in the form of a Subic-Clark-Batangas Intermodal Logistics Corridor Master Plan,” The study pointed out.

It noted that President Arroyo first raised the idea in 2007 when she declared that Luzon should be developed as a major transshipment and logistics hub in Asia. Since then, several big-ticket infrastructure projects interconnecting the corridor have been completed including the upgrading of the south and north expressways, opening of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway and other projects.

“It is also important to address major transport policy issues critical to the development of the corridor,” the study stressed.

The corridor provides specialized industries and processing activities in Subic and Clark Special Economic Zones, textile, garments and consumer electronics factories in the Calabarzon, prime agricultural production south and north of Manila and port related industries in Batangas.

The corridor now accounts for 80 percent of the national cargo throughput in the country and about half of yearly economic output.

In pushing hard for the master plan, Ambassador Bautista said that it is not enough that one announces it is building a new superhighway from Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City to Tuguegarao, Cagayan or a bullet train from Manila to Laoag without taking into consideration if those projects will bring down costs of shipping goods.

The master plan was envisioned not only to address the high cost of shipping goods across Luzon but between the island and other ports in the country and in the Asian region.

The initial study suggested that building a logistics corridor will have to be pushed in stages, the first of which will be the building of a transport corridor. Second stage will be a multimodal corridor that integrates land, sea and air transportation plus storage and other support facilities then into a logistics and later, an economic corridor.

“The whole point is to develop the corridor as an alternative transshipment hub in Asia and to open up new economic activities towards the eastern seaboard of Luzon,” Bautista pointed out.

So far, he added, there have been so many plans and programs including unsolicited proposals on building roads and railway systems but these have not been integrated into a master plan designed to speed up economic growth in Luzon and the rest of the country.

- Philexport News and Features (The Philippine Star)