PEZA-approved investment pledges surge this year


INVESTMENT pledges approved by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) more than doubled this year, thanks to several big-ticket projects.

The PEZA in a statement said it approved 198 projects that are expected to generate P140.7 billion this year, 103% higher than the P69.3 billion in 2021.

With this, the investment promotion agency surpassed its 6.7% growth target for 2022.

“Despite the 29.85% decline in the first semester of the year 2022 compared to the first semester of 2021, we never lost hope that we will recover,” PEZA Officer-in-Charge Tereso O. Panga said.

“With the big-ticket investments that were prequalified by the Board for endorsement to the FIRB (Fiscal Incentives Review Board), we were able to record a positive increase in investments in 2022.”

The PEZA said investment approvals this year were the highest in four years or since the P140.2 billion recorded in 2018.

“At the rate we are going now, PEZA has achieved this year the level of annual investments approved in 2018. That means that the country’s ecozones and high-performance investments are back to the pre-pandemic, even surpassing the 2018 level,” Mr. Panga said.

The higher investments also reflect the improvement in the economic and political climate, he added.

At its Dec. 13 meeting, the PEZA Board approved 13 new and expansion projects worth P83.651 billion.

Three of these projects are by ecozone developers while 10 are by ecozone locators such as export manufacturing and information technology service enterprises.

According to PEZA, these projects will be located in Taguig City, Pangasinan, Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, Cebu, and Negros Occidental.

The investments mainly came from Japan, Singapore, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, India, South Korea, the Republic of China, the British Virgin Islands, and Taiwan.

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President George T. Barcelon is hopeful the country will continue to attract more foreign investments next year.

“I think with all the efforts that the government has put in — I see that President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has been active in promoting the country for investment — so I would like to think that it will continue next year,” he said in a phone interview.

However, Mr. Barcelon noted foreign investments may slow next year as the global economy faces a more challenging outlook.

“It’s known now that the European economic situation is not quite optimistic, so that would maybe affect some of the investments that we will be expecting… Similar to North America, the recent increase in interest rates has put a halt to some of the optimistic projections for 2023,” he said.

Mr. Barcelon said the Philippine government still has to address concerns of investors, such as power availability and high power rates, among others.

Mr. Panga, on the other hand, is confident that more foreign direct investments will enter the country in 2023.

“What is important is we keep building and sustaining the confidence of investors and the country’s competitiveness in investment promotions and facilitations,” Mr. Panga said.

The Philippine economy grew by 7.7% in the first nine months of the year, putting it on track to surpass the government’s 6.5-7.5% full-year target.

“We are… actively engaging various government agencies and industry partners among others to aggressively promote the Philippines. We need to get our act together; we cannot do this alone. By doing that, we can achieve regulatory coherence and enhance further ease of doing business in the ecozones,” Mr. Panga said. — Arjay L. Balinbin