The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) wants to beef up the economic potential of smaller eco zones and other Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) as part of broader efforts to attract more investors as the Philippines prepares for regional economic integration next year.
Smaller eco zones and IPAs need promotional support to become viable economic zones, said DTI Industry Promotions Group (IPG) Undersecretary Ponciano Manalo Jr.
“We just really want to support and develop them because we have good economic development. They should be able to run on all cylinders,” Manalo told reporters.
Manalo said there is a need to set a common target because the bulk of investment targets are still with the Board of Investments (BOI) and Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
“It’s about enabling and helping smaller eco zones and the smaller IPAs to perform at their best level. They offer very different levels of promotion so we need to help them,” Manalo said.
The government created a network of IPAs to diversify locational offerings and obtain the best return on capital for prospective investors.
Besides BOI and PEZA, the country’s other IPAs are the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Clark Development Corp. (CDC), Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APEZA), Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB), Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), PHIVIDEC Industrial Authority (PIA), Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA), Regional Board of Investments-ARMM (RBOI-ARMM), Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), and Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority (ZEZA).
As an example, Manalo cited the economic potential of ZEZA. “Zamboanga is very agriculturally-driven. They are going after fisheries development—seaweeds, tuna. They also manufacture rubber. Their area is conducive for agricultural processing,” he said.
He also added that once the plebiscite is conducted on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, “we can see some economic development in Zamboanga and the whole Mindanao.”
“For example, if there is a locator that’s interested in garment investing, [we should]encourage them to go to AFAB because there are supply chains available in that zone.
Instead of driving away investors because they cannot offer something that is not in their zone, it would be better to refer them to another economic zone. I encouraged them to have very robust but granular objectives,” Manalo added.
All these developments are in line with government preparations for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) economic integration and the country’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit next year, Manalo said.
For Asean 2015, the government wants to focus on food processing and food production as well as on agriculture, especially Halal-certified food, because when trading with Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei, this is required, he said.
Halal-certified cosmetics and light industry supply chain in the region are also other target areas.
“A lot of our efforts next are devoted to APEC,” Manalo said.
“It’s more about bigger and more attractive promotion of Philippine products which will coincide with the ministerial meetings,” he said, adding: “This is a great opportunity to get targeted international exposure towards the Philippines.”
As another area of growth, the DTI official said they also want to give emphasis to animation and game development next year. “I think we can participate in that market in a big way,” he said.
This year, the Philippines targets to have 15 international trade shows, 11 of which have already been conducted.