Problems in parts of Asia

In the Philippines, shipping containers filled with all types of goods are arriving at Manila's port. Incoming shipments have been stalled at the port facility for up to two weeks, more than double the norm. This is especially troubling because the port handles more than half of the imports and exports for the entire country.

The cause is political. The cargo ban placed by elected officials was intended to ease gridlock and traffic congestion on land. Gridlocks had become common in the area, with over 20 million people residing and working nearby. The traffic problems have literally hampered the growth of the country in recent years. The unintended downside is the rising logistical challenges that the ban has created.

Since approximately two-thirds of the nation’s international trade flows through the South China Sea port, the bottlenecks are becoming worrisome.

Philippine exports, which account for about 30 percent of the economy, rose 11.2 percent in March. The Bureau of Customs said April 4 that the truck ban led to a 1.4 percent drop in import volume in February. The agency missed its collection target of 30.2 billion pesos for the month by 9 percent.