The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) approved investments worth PHP 140.89 billion so far this year, more than double from a year ago, its top official said.
“We are now at PHP 140 billion as of our latest board meeting on Nov. 16, so that is about 92% of our target,” PEZA Director-General Tereso O. Panga told reporters on the sidelines of the PEZA Investors Night on Wednesday.
The investment promotion agency (IPA) is targeting to approve PHP 154.77 billion worth of project registrations this year.
Mr. Panga said the PEZA-approved investments as of Nov. 16 are 147% higher than the PHP 57.05-billion investments approved during the same period last year.
“With two more board meetings to go, we will surpass our targets for the year with flying colors,” he said during his presentation at the event.
The PEZA chief said economic zones will continue to perform well as the Philippine economy posts one of the fastest growth rates in Southeast Asia for this year and next year.
Citing data from the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO), Mr. Panga said that the Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow by 5.9% and 6.5% this year and in 2024, respectively.
AMRO’s growth forecast for the Philippines is above the regional 2023 and 2024 consensus of 4.3% and 4.5% GDP growth, respectively. The region is composed of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan and South Korea.
Meanwhile, Mr. Panga said PEZA expects around PHP 50 billion worth of investments to come in, which includes a billion-dollar investment from a US company Texas Instruments, Inc.
“We are expecting some more investments that have a combined worth of over PHP 50 billion. If we are lucky enough, these might bring us back to the PHP 200-billion to PHP 250-billion level or the 2012 and 2015 peak years of PEZA investment approvals,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.
The PEZA Board is scheduled to hold a meeting on Nov. 30, while the last meeting will be in December.
In his presentation, the PEZA director-general said that Japanese companies remain to be the top source for investments, followed by Filipino, American, Dutch and British companies.
“This year, we are seeing an increase in investments from other markets like China, Taiwan, Australia and the European Union,” Mr. Panga said.
Around a third of the approved investments are in electronics and semiconductors, followed by information technology (IT) services (12.45%) and metals or fabricated metal products investments (8.66%).
“In the coming Industry 4.0, we see huge potential in advanced and smart manufacturing, electric and hybrid vehicles, artificial intelligence and robotics, frontier technologies, and other unique industries,” Mr. Panga said.
The PEZA Board pre-qualified a total of 25 big-ticket locator projects from July 2022 to November 2023 which are estimated to generate PHP 217.21 billion in investments, USD 1.5 billion in exports and 16,414 direct jobs.
Mr. Panga said that a total of 11 economic zones (ecozones) with investments totaling PHP 3.5 billion have already been approved under the current administration. These ecozones are located in Batangas, Bacolod, Bataan, Naga City, Dumaguete City, Davao, Cebu, Pampanga and Sarangani.
There are three ecozones with a total investment of PHP 654.43 million awaiting the release of the presidential proclamation. These are MetroCas Industrial Estates-Special Economic Zone, Suyo Economic Zone, and Kamanga Agro-Industrial Economic Zone.
“We have increased our presence outside of Luzon and the metropolis to bring ecozone development in rural and new growth areas. Rural communities continue to be transformed into bustling urban centers,” Mr. Panga said.
To date, the IPA has 422 operating ecozones. — Justine Irish D. Tabile