Philippine goods bound to the United Kingdom may experience temporary delays due to the ongoing strike at the Felixstowe Port in Southeastern England, the Department of Trade and Industry said Tuesday.
Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said the Philippine Trade Office in London has advised Filipino exporters to use other routes to have their products reach their destination in the UK.
“Since the strike had been anticipated, our Post in London informed us that some shipments have been re-routed to minimize the impact of the port strike on PH-UK trade,” he said.
He added the strike may disrupt supply chains and may increase operational costs of exporters due to the diversion of shipments.
As the largest container port in the United Kingdom, the Felixstowe Port handles more than a third of cargo entering the UK, including those from Asia.
The main products that pass through this port include food, electronics, garments, and automotive parts.
The strike adds to the supply chain issues and port congestion that the UK has already been facing since its withdrawal from the European Union.
However, these impacts are considered to be relatively minor and temporary because there are other ports of entry into the UK such as the Southampton Port and London Gateway, which are also main entry points for shipments coming from Asia.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) said it has yet to hear complaints from member companies regarding the port strike.
Total bilateral trade between the Philippines and UK was about £2 billion each year, or approximately P135 trillion.
The UK has recently announced that the Philippines is eligible for duty free access for over 99 percent of total exported goods to the UK under UK’s new Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS).
The DCTS will replace the UK Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) and will allow the Philippines to save nearly P1.4 billion from tariffs each year, once the scheme comes into force in early 2023.
The Felixstowe row presents a major headache for international freight.
Shipping giant Maersk said three of its ships have so far been diverted to other North European ports, before seeking to transfer cargo back to Britain.
Dockers want a 10-percent pay rise with inflation currently running at a 40-year high of 10.1 percent.
The Port of Felixstowe described as “fair” its offer of salary increases of an average eight percent.
“The port regrets the impact this action will have on UK supply chains,” it added. With AFP