German, Italian chambers expect rising goods prices due to Red Sea ship attacks

By Justine Irish D. Tabile, Reporter

THE GERMAN-PHILIPPINE Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI) and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines said the rerouting of shipping away from the Red Sea will exert upward pressure on goods prices.

GPCCI President Stefan Schmitz told BusinessWorld that logistics prices are already rising as shipping lines increase their rates to avoid the Red Sea, a key shortcut for Suez Canal traffic, because of attacks on cargo ships by Yemeni rebels.

“We are looking at about anything, depending on shipping line, 10 to 14 days additional. So we’re talking about millions of dollars per journey and the carriers will not carry the burden, so that means that will go to the (price consumers pay),” Mr. Schmitz said in a chance interview. He added that price increases will vary by product.

“I think (the price impact) will be noticeable to say the least,” he added.

He said that most of the carriers have indicated plans to collect added charges due to the need to take a longer route rounding the Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa.

Mr. Schmitz said the chamber still waiting on how businesses will react to European plans to send in naval vessels to protect shipping.

“We are yet to see whether vessel owners are going to take that offer and change routing. It is still hanging, and with the amount of vessels that we’re seeing going each way, if it’s over tomorrow, then the effect may not be noticeable, but if it prolongs then surely it will be noticed,” he added.

Germany was the 12th largest trading partner of the Philippines in 2022, with total trade amounting to $4.71 billion in 2022, according to the Department of Trade and Industry.

Of the total, $2.78 billion are Philippine exports to Germany, while $1.93 billion are imports from Germany.

Electronics are the top Philippine export to Germany.

The Suez Canal, on the northern end of the Red Sea, accounts for around 12% of global trade or 30% of overall global container traffic.

Italian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines Executive Director Lorens Ziller said the chamber expects transport costs to double due to the crisis.

“The logistics cost is going to increase to transport goods from Asia to Europe because (shipping companies) said they will not use the canal because of the issues in the Red Sea,” Mr. Ziller said.

“Therefore, we will see an increase in transport costs. I think a container will cost up to $5,000 and that definitely will make things more expensive, those that go from east to west and the other way around,” he said.

He said that this will be an almost double increase from $3,000 per container pricing prior to the crisis.

Mr. Ziller said that among the products that the Philippines exports to Europe are raw materials like coconut oil and microchips.

“We have seen that the number one export product (of the Philippines) is microchips, and this makes up the majority of the export and even that is going to be affected right now,” he added.

Total trade between Italy and the Philippines amounted to $1.24 billion in 2022, $832 million of which are Philippine imports.