THE head of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is optimistic new investments will grow by 300 percent this year after a drop in 2016, driven by electronics exporters.
PEZA Director General Charito Plaza noted that new investments grew by 51 percent in the first quarter of 2017 alone.
“We’re very optimistic that 2017 will be a big year for the semiconductor and electronics industry,” Plaza told reporters on Wednesday on the sidelines of the 14th Philippine Semiconductor and Electronics Convention and Exhibition at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
“We’re expecting 200 percent to 300 percent new investments by the end of 2017 over last year,” she added.
PEZA-registered investments, which enjoy fiscal and other incentives, fell by 26 percent last year to P218 billion amid policy uncertainty brought about by the presidential election.
For the first three months of 2017, however, PEZA investments rose by 51 percent, Plaza said, without giving the exact figure.
Electronics and semiconductor investments alone jumped by 85.19 percent to P7.640 billion in the first quarter, from P4.125 billion in the same period last year, Plaza said.
“Semicon and electronics exports in PEZA also posted a robust increase of 11.50 percent, from $5.109 billion in exports for the first three months of 2016 to $5.697 billion for the first quarter this year,” she said.
Direct employment in the electronics and semicon industry rose by 2.04 percent to 340,662 workers in the first quarter, from 333,849 in the same period in 2016.
Out of the total 3,985 operating enterprises in PEZA-accredited economic zones as of March 2017, 469 or 11.8 percent were electronics and semiconductor enterprises, Plaza said.
“Those foreign investors that [gave]a letter of intent, [from]the Middle East, US and Japan, one by one or by group, are coming over to look for the economic zones that they like as far as the location is concerned, and register their companies already with PEZA,” she said.
“Japan is always the biggest foreign investor, they now comprise more than 30 percent of the total PEZA investors,” she added.
PEZA oversees 73 manufacturing economic zones, 243 information technology parks and centers, 21 agro-industrial economic zones, 19 tourism economic zones, and two medical tourism parks and centers.
Dan Lachica, president of the Semiconductor and Electronics in the Philippines Inc. (Seipi), said that despite the imposition of martial law in Mindanao in May and the lone-wolf attack at Resorts World Manila earlier this month, the electronics sector was expected to hit 5 percent to 6 percent growth this year.
“It’s business as usual, investors continue to come in even if there are other scares like martial law in Mindanao and the Resorts World attack recently. We were holding on to a 5 percent to 6 percent growth this year. It’s possible we can hit that,” Lachica said.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez vowed to further boost the electronics industry, the country’s biggest export sector.
“So, the priority right now is how we can [add value]on electronics, how we can improve on increasing the types of electronics, [achieve]higher value exports on electronics,” he said.