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Ports authority expects 7% growth in cargo volume in 2021

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) sees brighter prospects for cargo traffic in 2021, projecting 7% growth as the economy reopens.

As expected, cargo volume slumped from January to December 2020, declining 13.5% to 230.43 million metric tons (MMT) year-on-year.

Ports in Manila suffered the biggest decline in pass-throughs, dropping by 85%.

The optimism for this year, however, is rooted in the performance in other areas. Ports in Southern Luzon and the Visayas ended 2020 with a "minimal contraction," said PPA General Manager Jay Santiago, while Southern Mindanao ports recorded a "positive deviation."

"This is a very good indication that the economy is doing just fine and can easily rebound to pre-COVID-19 levels, once we roll out our vaccination program, and get back investor confidence in our supply chain," Santiago said on Wednesday, March 3.

While the PPA set a modest target for 2021, its forecast for the coming years is even more conservative – inching up 1% to 3% – to 249.17 MMT in 2022 and 256.29 MMT in 2023.

But Santiago acknowledged that going back to pre-pandemic levels is not an easy task, given that quarantine restrictions are still in place.

"Our vaccination program has already started and hopefully restriction on movement eases up as well.… We are optimistically conservative with our cargo traffic," said Santiago.

The slump in passenger traffic, meanwhile, is expected to hold up in the next couple of years, according to the PPA forecast.

Passenger traffic plummeted by 70% to 24.79 million in 2020, while 2021 numbers are expected to rise by 1 million, then around 260,000 more passengers in 2022. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.

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