PEZA may exceed investment goal

New investment pledges are expected to be lower this year amid the pandemic. — REUTERS/ERIK DE CASTRO

THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is aiming to approve more than P100 billion in investment pledges by the end of the year, led by a potential investor relocating from China.

“We might exceed more than P100 billion this year, with all these positive responses of our present investors and incoming investors,” PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza in a press conference on Monday.

For the first 10 months of 2020, the agency reported P72.6 billion in new investment pledges, falling by more than a quarter from a year earlier.

The PEZA board approved another P14.6 billion worth of new investments during its board meeting earlier this month.

However, even if PEZA reaches P100 billion in new investment pledges, this would still be around 15% lower than P117.54 billion in investments approved in 2019.

Before the pandemic, PEZA aimed for 5-10% growth in new investment pledges this year.

Ms. Plaza said that the agency is in talks with an Israeli company that could transfer 16 of its facilities from China to the Philippines, while some companies already in PEZA ecozones are also looking to expand their current operations.

“We will first have an MoU (memorandum of understanding) and then we are helping them in finding the appropriate economic zone to locate their 16 branches,” she said.

Details on the company’s projects and industry have not yet been released.

Ms. Plaza said she is aiming to have all companies in PEZA economic zones to be operational by the end of the year.

As of Nov. 6, 87% or 2,627 companies on PEZA ecozones are operational, representing more than a million workers. The remaining 13% are non-operational companies with 432,747 employees.

More companies that remain non-operational are in Luzon, representing 14% of 2,560 companies. Meanwhile, 6% of the 409 Visayas-based companies are not operating and 7% of 46 Mindanao-based companies are non-operational.

Ms. Plaza in a press release last week said the competition from Southeast Asian neighbors in attracting investors transferring from China remains “tough,” noting the country’s underdeveloped infrastructure and logistics. — Jenina P. Ibanez

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