House to work with DTI in lowering shipping rates

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    THE House of Representatives will work together with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in crafting a measure regulating shipping rates to help lower costs for importers, and in turn, bring down prices of consumer goods, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said yesterday.

    Cayetano said shipping rates, which are unilaterally imposed by international shipping lines, “have become excessive, leading to increases in the costs of imported raw materials and other goods.”

    He said regulating shipping rates would not only benefit local importers but also consumers since high shipping fees force importers to pass on the costs to consumers, leading to higher prices of goods.

    “Local producers who import raw materials are forced to pay these exorbitant shipping fess, which jack up their production costs, and, in the process, result in higher prices for domestic consumers,” he said. “It’s the consumers that we’re protecting here. This will also help the government improve its tax collection capabilities.”

    Cayetano said the House will coordinate with the DTI in coming up with a draft bill that Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez plans to submit to the House before the end of the month.

    The lack of an enabling law covering the regulation of fees imposed by foreign shipping lines operating in the country prompted the DTI to draft a bill and submit it later to Congress to give more teeth to the measure.

    At least two bills are pending in the House seeking to regulate and standardize local fees imposed by foreign shipping lines operating in the country. The bills will be consolidated into a single measure once the DTI’s version is submitted to the House.

    One of them is House Bill No. 4316 filed by Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Rep. Bernadette R. Herrera-Dy, which aims to standardize local charges at both the origin and destination imposed by international shipping firms.

    HB 4462 filed by Ang Probinsyano Partylist Rep. Ronnie Ong mandates the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to promote fair and transparent destination fees and other shipping charges among freight forwarders and agents of international shipping lines. The DTI has been planning to issue a Joint Administrative Order with the Department of Transportation and the Department of Finance, on the regulation of local fees charged by foreign shipping lines, but later decided to just ask the President to issue an executive order.