New CEZA Chief sees more Investments from Australia

(Philippine Daily Inquirer) August 21, 2017

The new head of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) projected more and bigger investments from Australia starting next year in line with the Duterte administration’s bid to spur economic growth that would not only be sustainable but inclusive.

In a statement, Raul L. Lambino, administrator and chief executive officer of Ceza, said investors from Australia were expected to bring some of their biggest businesses to the Philippines starting next year.

Lambino made the statement after returning recently from a week long investment road show in key Australian cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

During the road show, under the Philippine Investment Promotion Plan, Lambino told investors that “remarkable and real change has come to my country.”

The Philippine team in the road show, launched in collaboration with the Australia Philippines Business Council led by its president Ed Alcordo, was led by Trade Undersecretary Rowel Barba and composed of key officials of the Board of Investments, Ceza and other free port agencies.

Lambino presented the “Build Build Build” infrastructure program of the government and told Australian businessmen to seize new trade and investment opportunities that have opened up in the Philippines under President Duterte.

Mr. Duterte, Lambino told Australian businessmen, had become a “game-changer” in the Philippine business climate.

During his presentation, Lambino laid out the Duterte administration’s P9.5-trillion infrastructure program that included roads, bridges, airports and seaports.

New infrastructure, Lambino said, would make the Philippines an “excellent haven for investment and business.”

Areas of “deep interests for Australian investors” were being developed, he said. These included programs for agriculture, ecotourism and business process outsourcing.

This year, the Philippines became the 10th fastest growing economy in the world, which Lambino said was not an accident but the result of the Duterte administration’s policy on transparency and accountability and the continuing war on corruption, criminality and drugs.

“Growth is getting more inclusive,” he said in his statement. This shows in the inflation rate that was at a historical low of 1.8 percent in 2016 and unemployment rate that fell to 4.7 percent also last year.

“This is significant because there are more jobs available and we have been sending fewer OFWs (overseas Filipino workers),” Lambino said.

Lambino said Ceza itself was an ideal investment site because of its strategic location near major ports and cities in the AsiaPacific region and along international sea routes that lead to Australia and the US West Coast.

“Australia is a close friend and ally,” Lambino said.