Ecozone regulator wooing more Japan investors

by Jan 16, 2024Featured Article, News

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is eyeing to grow investments from Japanese investors to as much as P80 billion this year, as it continues to be aggressive in its investment promotion efforts in the East Asian market.

In an interview with ANC, PEZA director-general Tereso Panga said they are eyeing to further increase investments from Japanese firms, which hit P52.2 billion in 2023.

“We cannot discount the huge contributions of Japanese investors so we’ll continue to be aggressive with our outbound investment missions to Japan,” Panga said.

“And there’s a huge potential from the Japanese SMEs, they account for the biggest sector in the Japan economy. In order for us to support their going global when it comes to scaling up operations, we’re offering the Philippines to be their hub, not just to supply to the local market but to meet their export commitments as well,” he added.

As part of its efforts to increase investments from Japan, Panga said PEZA is set to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. (SMBC) and Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), for the banks to become PEZA’s investment promotion partners.

“Part of our collaboration is they will assist us in promoting the Philippines to Japanese investors with our inbound, outbound delegation of investors,” Panga said.

He added that the banks would also aid in investment promotion through their network of valued clients.

“Other than the usual generation of FDI leads and the follow-through with Japanese would-be investors, this collaboration is also meant to promote access to financial services, which the banks can offer to support the operations and expansion of our existing Japanese locator companies,” Panga said.

Based on a media advisory from the PEZA, the MOU signing is slated on Jan. 23.

Data from the PEZA showed that the Japanese continued to be the top PEZA investors in 2023, accounting for 27.34 percent of the approved investments.

This was followed by Filipinos with a 23.19 percent share. American investors had a 14.82 percent share, while Dutch investors had an 11.68 percent share.

Other top investors include the British (6.84 percent); Singaporeans (4.09 percent); and Koreans (3.3 percent).

For this year, the PEZA is targeting approved investments to reach over P250 billion next year as it hopes to return to its previous peak levels of investments.

“We really want to target P250 billion plus because this will bring us back to the peak levels of PEZA during the time of Atty. De Lima when we were hitting P 250 billion to P300 billion,” Panga said earlier referring to former PEZA director general Lilia de Lima who took the helm of the agency from 1995 to 2016.

“If we will target another increase of 10 percent over our baseline for 2023, we’re looking at P202 billion in investments by 2024. And this, I would say, is still conservative,” he said.

In 2023, investments approved by the PEZA reached P175.71 billion, 25 percent higher than the P140.7 billion approved investments in the previous year.