President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his Philippine counterpart, President Rodrigo Duterte, officiated the opening of a new sea route connecting the port cities of Davao and General Santos in the Philippines and Bitung in North Sulawesi on Sunday in Davao.
During the ceremony, roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) vessels headed to Bitung Port departed from Kudos Port in Davao to mark the opening of a new shipping route. The new route is expected to boost trade between the two countries.
Previously, it took five weeks for goods to be transported from Davao to Indonesia, as traders were forced to make a stopover in Manila before shipping to Indonesian port cities like Jakarta, Makassar or Surabaya.
With the new shipping corridor, a Ro-Ro vessel from Davao could reach Bitung in 36 hours.
“The opening of the Ro-Ro route is a breakthrough. This route will cut chains of distribution of goods from the two countries,” Jokowi said during the ceremony.
Jokowi said that the opening of the route took place at the right time because the two countries experienced an increase in trade last year.
“This will provide momentum as last year the value of trade between the two countries increased by 30 percent compared to the previous year,” Jokowi said.
Duterte said the new port would not only strengthen economic ties between Indonesia and the Philippines, but also connect the economies of ASEAN member states.
“This will open up competition and create new businesses that will support the opening of new jobs in the future,” Duterte said.