CEZA, Ecozones Woo Aussie Biz

By Jessica M. Bacud (Manila Standard) August 22,2017

Australian investors are expected to locate some of their big businesses in the Philippines starting next year following a roadshow conducted by the government’s investment promotion agencies in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.

Secretary Raul L. Lambino, administrator and CEO of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, made the bold forecast that a “remarkable and real change has come to my country” with these investment pledges.

Lambino, who presented the “Build Build Build” infrastructure program of the government, told the Australians to seize new trade and investment opportunities that have opened up in the Philippines since President Rodrigo Duterte took office more than a year ago.

Duterte has become a “game-changer” in attracting business leaders around the world to take a closer look at the Philippine market “in pursuit of what is right,” Lambino added.

The government has rolled out a five-year, P9.5-trillion infrastructure build-up under the “Dutertenomics” economic framework with heavy spending on roads, bridges, airports and seaports that would make the country an “excellent haven for investment and business to thrive,” Lambino stressed.

Other support programs are being firmed up in agriculture, eco-tourism and the industry-leading Business Outsourcing Management ventures, he said. These are areas of “deep interest for Australian investors,” he added.

This year, the Philippines became the 10th fastest growing economy in the world, which Lambino said is the result of the Duterte Administration’s transparent and accountable governance and the continuing war against corruption, criminality and drugs.

“Growth is getting more inclusive,” the Ceza chief said, citing government records that pegged inflation at a historical low of 1.8 percent last year, and unemployment that fell below five percent at 4.7 percent in October 2016.

“This is significant because there are more jobs available here in the country and we have been sending less OFWs,” Lambino said.

In promoting Ceza, an investment destination in northeastern Luzon, Lambino pointed out its strategic location near major ports and cities in the Asia-Pacific region and along international sea routes that lead to Australia and the US West Coast.

Lambino said the Duterte administration’s thrusts would favor investments in eco-tourism, agri-industrial ventures and ICT development where he added several Australian firms have already expressed their interest to locate at the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport and other ecozones and freeports around the country.

“Australia is a close friend and ally. We have our Status of Forces Agreement with the Australians and they know that we are a grateful nation and people and we do not forget their sacrifices in World War 11 when many of them fought and died with us during the war,” added Lambino.

The Philippine Investment Promotion Plan investment road show to Australia was organized by the Board of Investments and the Department of Trade and Industry in collaboration with the Australia Philippines Business Council, headed by its president Ed Acordo.

The PH team was led by Trade Undersecretary Rowel Barba and composed of key officers of the BOI, CEZA, Authority of the Freeport of Bataan, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Bases Conversion Development Authority, Clark Development Corp., Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority, Mindanao Development Authority, and the Regional Board of Investments of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.