PEZA investment pledges up 8.5%

INVESTMENT PLEDGES approved by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) climbed by 8.5% in the first half after coming off a low base last year.

Total economic zone investments approved as of June 30 amounted to P32.057 billion, based on 119 new and expansion projects, the agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

The investment promotion agency set a 7% investment growth target this year as it anticipates more interest from foreign firms after the passage of the law cutting corporate income tax and reforming the tax incentives system.

PEZA last year registered just P95.03 billion in pledges, down by 19.15% from 2019 after lockdown restrictions declared to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic dented investor confidence. The PEZA board failed to meet during initial lockdown that began in mid-March 2020.

For the first half of 2021, most new investments came from Japan, South Korea, India, Hong Kong, and China, along with investments from Germany, Austria, France, Canada, and the United States.

The key industrial region of Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon) received the most investment pledges with P10 billion, followed by Central Visayas, the Davao Region, and the National Capital Region.

In June alone, PEZA approved 62 projects. Among them, 22 are information technology projects while 20 are export manufacturing enterprises. The rest are facilities and economic zone development projects.

“These projects are essential especially as we continue to go back to our vibrant and booming economy,” PEZA Director-General Charito B. Plaza said.

Exports reported by the agency from Jan. 1 to May 31 amounted to $24.781 billion, or 23.35% higher than the same period last year. Direct employment went up 8.58% to 1.6 million during the same period.

“As we all move forward towards herd immunity and reopening our economy, PEZA is positive that we can fulfill the last few months of 2021 with flying colors. The COVID-19 pandemic cannot stop us from performing at our best and ensuring that we continuously attract more investments, generate exports, and produce jobs for millions of Filipinos even post-pandemic,” Ms. Plaza said.

In the first quarter, PEZA-approved investment pledges went up 53.87% to P25.382 billion based on 57 newly approved projects.

The agency said that it continues to promote the creation of special economic zones, especially in the countryside. It had announced plans to restructure its services to create more regional presence. — Jenina P. Ibanez