The maritime industry is a key player in the growth of the Philippine economy. Thus, improving and enhancing its development is a government top priority. In order to achieve this objective, the country largely depends on both foreign investors and local business communities to funnel the funds needed to accelerate and spur expansion.
Being an archipelago is a geographic advantage of the Philippines. It is strategically situated in a consistently dynamic region, which makes it very attractive to foreign investors and capitalists. Other than its ideal location, the Philippines is also home to a highly-skilled and semi-skilled workforce and has existing information and communication technology, as well as transport (air, land and water) facilities that are highly needed and useful in a growing and developing economy. These positive factors can also serve to attract foreign partnerships and alliances that will bring in capital and investments to finance maritime and other relevant industries. This is expected to generate exponential employment opportunities, maximize productive capacity of human resources, and achieve national targets.
Infusing capital to boost economic activities is not the only benefit that can be gained from robust foreign trade relations. Healthy and mutually-beneficial alliances with other nations also result in more connections, which open doors of opportunities for new and expanded export business potentials. Foreign partnerships can also serve to stimulate the market by bringing in competition that will make way to new technological advancement and innovations that will ultimately result in the improved quality and delivery of products and services to the Filipino people.
Role of MARINA
The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) works to ensure that all maritime sectors under its supervision are taken cared of. Shipping lines, ship building and ship repair, fishing, seafarers and marine tourism are given adequate attention and appropriate support. This will facilitate the seamless performance of their respective roles in promoting the equitable and inclusive economic growth of the country. Marcial Quirico Amaro 3rd, MARINA administrator, expressed his optimism that with its 10-year Maritime Development Program (MIDP), the agency is geared to accomplish its oversight and regulatory functions and ensure that coordination and collaborative efforts by all stakeholders (from both public and private sectors) will bring to fruition the dream that in time, the Philippines will realize its maximum potential as a maritime nation.
The information and communications division personnel at the Board of Investments (BOI) shared a value proposition for the shipping industry, which is considered one of the emerging maritime-related industries with huge export market opportunities that can attract foreign capital ventures for either start-up or expansion activities. Philippine shipbuilding is now gaining attention (being the fourth largest) around the world. With the increased demand for passenger and cargo vessels, tankers and container ships, major shipbuilders in other countries are looking to establish or expand their shipyards and dry docks in foreign soil such as the Philippines.
Two foreign-owned companies, Keppel (Subic and Batangas) and Tsuneishi (Cebu) a Japanese holding company and partner of the Aboitiz Group and two Filipino-owned companies, Herma Shipyard Inc., (Bataan) and Colorado Shipyard Corp. (Cebu) are just some of the well-known ship builders in the country. Combined project costs of shipyards and ship builders in the Philippines amount to a hundred billion pesos and provide employment to thousands of skilled, semi-skilled and administrative workers. Indeed, the presence of these companies stimulates economic activity in their host communities and regions and produce positive outcomes in nation building.
Foreign investors looking to engage in shipbuilding or merge with existing shipping companies can consider other ports and eco-zones in Luzon and Mindanao to establish business.
Other maritime-related industries that could help improve the Philippine economy are offshore energy exploration in Benham rise, a disputed area where the Philippines has sovereign rights. Here are vast marine and natural resources that could be tapped and explored for ecologically and sustainably efficient use.
There are government agencies like the BOI that can aid prospective investors should they intend to pursue business prospects. The BOI Infocom division further explained that part of the agency’s main tasks is to assist prospective investors (both local and foreign) in the procedural requirements of setting up business in the Philippines. Great efforts are exerted to realize ease of doing business, which is one of the key strategic initiatives of the administration aimed to attract and maintain foreign investors.
Investors’ confidence in the business climate of a country will serve to encourage foreign investments. The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) stresses that this is maintained in the Philippine scenario. Under the Philippine Development Plan (PDP 2017-2022), NEDA outlined several strategies to increase capital inflow and investments from various sources. These include legislative agenda, which will be focused on the passage of new laws and amendments and repeal of the existing ones. Some of these priority bills are:
• The Ease of Doing Business Act, which is essentially intended to review existing regulations, policies and statutes and eventually work on the repeal of unnecessary and redundant issuances
• The Amendment of the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, which seeks to align guidelines for foreign investments
with the Foreign Investment Actlower capital requirements for foreign enterprises, and harmonize such with those observed in Asian countries
• The amendment of certain economic provisions, particularly on foreign ownership that is seen to attract more foreign direct investments (FDI).
These partnerships also contribute to seafarers’ professional development. Rey Dampil, a marine engineering graduate, was employed in Hanjin (Subic, Zambales) for many years before he went to explore other job prospects overseas. His work at Hanjin taught and trained him to understand and comply with the work ethics of foreign nationals. He shared that this experience enabled him to easily adjust to the working environment in other countries and in working alongside with other people who have different cultures. While he opted to venture on foreign lands to further uplift his family’s financial status, Dampil believes that businesses created thru foreign investments in the localities where they are situated are very helpful to the economy, especially in providing jobs, thereby increasing the employment rate of the country.