Trade Recovery on the Go, Time to Finish Some Delayed Works

Bambang Sabekti

By: Bambang Sabekti, Professional in Maritime Industry

Approaching the end of first quarter this year (Q12021), the national economy performance starts to show improvement. Business players (entrepreneurs) are getting excited to move the economy. Many entrepreneurs look for new fund resources to make business expansions and development as they see the economic condition is getting recovered, plus the vaccines have been/are distributed evenly to fight against the Covid-19.

Refinement in a number of economic indicators in the first quarter of this year were seen in the performance of trade that shows the imports of raw/supporting material and capital goods that the produced goods will be re-exported. Indonesian manufacturers are on an expansion path throughout the first quarter in this year. The export performance also shows significant increase, so in March 2021 reached a surplus in national trade balance.

The export and import activities via Tanjung Priok port in March 2021 also experienced increase, so in the busy days close to the closing time, the traffics to Tanjung Priok port were congested, especially the export containers that were loaded into the ships at weekends (end week vessels). This is understandable, considering many exporters ship more their goods into weekend vessels than mid-week vessels. It is not surprising if the port terminal is easier to sell the “weekend berthing window” than “berthing window” on other days (on weekdays).

Therefore, in the early 2000s, when I (writer) was still active in an international shipping company, we “upsized” ships for week-end vessels to 4,000 TEUs and pulled or “pulled out” mid-week vessels. For the latter, the author prefers “bookings to common feeders such as Samudera Shipping Line, ACL and others with a volume of around 100 teus, to accommodate export needs in the mid-week. The cost will be cheaper than deploying your own ship.

The Former Vice President Yusuf Kalla viewed the congestion from a positive perspective. Congestion is a “good sign”, indicating the economy is active and growing. So, it is the right decision the Government to build a new port in Patimban to reduce congestion in Tanjung Priok, though the Tanjung Priok Port’s current capacity is still more than enough compared to the current volume. The YOR (Yard Occupancy Ratio) of Priok’s terminals is relatively low (less than 50 (fifty) percent, thanks to the success of the “dwelling time” program.

Currently, more than 70 (seventy) percent importers (cargo owners) release their goods in less than 3 (three) days, minimizing longer storage at the port. What becomes the problem is the insufficient road capacity. The numbers of roads that add more like a geometric progression, while on the other hand, the numbers of vehicles passing by grows like an arithmetic sequence.

Another factor that may contribute to congestion is that not all container trucks at port apply the “dual move” concept, meaning the container trucks that carry export goods to the ports will leave the ports with imported goods. Based on the writer’s current research, less than 3 (three) percent of the trucks that apply the dual move at Tanjung Priok are as the result of the truck companies’/freight-forwarders’ initiatives.

If the concept is pushed to be implemented to other stakeholders, the writer believes the congestion can be minimized and the trucking cost might become cheaper, especially for cargo owners who own export and import containers at the same time as the cost of trucking may be set on “the round trip” basis that will reduce the cost of the national logistics in turn.

The success of Covid-19 vaccination program in Indonesia and in other parts of the world, also in Indonesia’s primary trading partner countries like China, India, and the United States of America make the volume (throughput) in Tanjung Priok will continually increase in the next months ahead. Moreover, the scarcity of containers has subsided as what the writer sees, almost every week the Main Lain Operator (MLO) sends an empty container to Jakarta to accommodate the needs of export. Also, for MLOs, Jakarta’s markets should be maintained for Jakarta, which becomes the center of economy in Indonesia, is the valuable market for them.

In March 2021, the international volume (throughput) in Tanjung Priok grew double digit, by 18% month to month, while the accumulative for Q1 (January-March) 2021 grew 0.99% year on year.  It is not bad amid the pandemic was still going on. The International volume at Tanjung Priok represented 67 percent of the total throughput in Tanjung Priok; and the rest is domestic. This is good for port operator (BUP) considering the tariffs for international are way higher than the domestic tariffs.

In 2021, IPC targeted container flows for 7.2 million TEUs or increased by 7.2 per cent compared to the realization of 2020. Such a reasonable target considering the industries and manufactures that are becoming more active and strong with the PMI (Purchasing Manufacturing Index) over 50 that is 53.2 or entering an expansive zone. Disruption in the Suez Canal for Indonesia is not really significant for the Tanjung Priok throughput.

The economic recovery of the United States (USA) and Tiongkok also gives contribution towards Indonesia’s Balance of Trade (IBOT) in March 2021. The two countries are Indonesia’s trade partners. The Central Bureau of Statistic BPS recorded the balance of trade experienced surplus for US$ 1.57 Billion.

Indonesian University Chancellors as well as an economy expert Ari Kuncoro said, the surplus in March is a productive surplus because both export and import experience positive growth. In the previous years, the surplus happened when the imports plunged deeper than exports. Today becomes healthier as we see this is the effect from the United States of America’s and Tiongkok’s economy that starts to grow up. BPS’ record showed Indonesia’s exports to Tiongkok experienced an increase for US$ 774.6 million and to the United States of America increased for US$ 212.6 million.


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