The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) expects annual cargo volumes to remain below prepandemic levels through 2023, mainly due to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a media briefing on Wednesday, PPA general manager Jay Santiago said recovery was still hinged on consumer demand and the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions.
From 266.4 million metric tons (MMT) in 2019, cargo volumes last year sank 13.5 percent to 230.44 MMT.
Santiago expects volume to grow by 7 percent this year and increase incrementally until 2023, where it expects to end with 256.3 MMT.
“The main driver of cargo is really consumption. The moment it goes up, this will push volumes higher,” Santiago said.
He said the forecast included the ongoing vaccination drive and was in step with national government growth figures.
The drop last year was mainly led by ports serving Metro Manila, which accounts for 85 percent of all cargo volume.
Santiago, however, said the PPA recorded “minimal” decreases in its ports in Southern Luzon, Visayas and Southern Mindanao. He added that Northern Mindanao posted growth in 2020 despite the pandemic.
Santiago said passenger volume at PPA’s ports also declined substantially due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions.
From 83.72 million in 2019, passenger traffic fell to 24.79 million in 2020. This is projected to recover to 25.84 million passengers in 2021, 26.1 million in 2022 and 26.8 million in 2023.
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