ICTSI said Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine Corp., has  launched the new port rotation of Korea-Taiwan-Philippines (KTP), with the latter calling port at ICTSI’s Subic Bay Freeport, apart from the Batangas port and other key ports in the other two countries.

Evergreen is Taiwan’s largest shipping company.

“The inclusion of Subic in the rotation is expected to boost the growing markets in northern and central Luzon, which stand to benefit from the direct trade link to Korea and Taiwan. Aside from exports and imports, the service also offers transshipment for overseas cargo,” ICTSI said in a statement.

In 2007, under the Subic Port Development Project, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) awarded to SBITC the concession for the New Container Terminal (NCT) 1, with commercial operations commencing in 2008.  In 2011 SBMA again awarded the concession to operate NCT 2 under the Subic Port Project’s second phase.

The KTP weekly service follows the following port rotation:  Incheon and Kwangyang, South Korea; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Batangas, Manila, and Subic, Philippines; and back to Kaohsiung.  

“The first Evergreen vessel under the KTP service is scheduled to make its maiden call to Subic on 19 April,” ICTSI said.

In December 2016, the Taiwan Maritime and Port Bureau (TMPB) expressed interest to partner with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) to increase container transshipment traffic between the ports of Taiwan and Subic.  TMPB raised the possibility of partnership during a recent port visit to Subic, which stemmed from SBMA’s participation in the 22nd Philippines-Taiwan Joint Economic Conference last October in Taipei.

ICTSI said the Philippines is capitalizing on Taiwan’s “Southbound Policy” which aims to strengthen trade and investment relationship between Taiwan and countries south of the latter’s territory.  

“This “paradigm shift” opens the doors for the Philippines to capture businesses in Taiwan’s high-value manufacturing, innovation, logistics and transshipment, renewable energy, e-commerce, and financing sectors,” it said.

The SBMA has asked the TMPB to encourage industries in Taichung to utilize Subic as the regional gateway.

Taiwan is the Philippines’ sixth biggest trading partner, facilitating around $ 7.85 billion worth of bilateral trade in 2015.  Currently, the Subic Bay Freeport Zone hosts 52 Taiwanese companies with $ 500 million worth of investments and over 12,000 jobs generated, ICTSI noted.

South Korea meanwhile is the Philippines’ fifth largest trading partner in 2015.  In 2014, bilateral trade between the two countries reached $13.4 billion, a number that is expected to reach $ 20 billion over the next five years.  This projection has triggered the increase of Korean investments in the Philippines in the recent years, with construction, cosmetics and food companies looking to invest.

Recently, SBMA has urged local government units around the Subic Freeport Zone to start developing industrial parks to accommodate the growing number of investors.