SANTA ANA, Cagayan: An estimated $1-billion research and development project for magnetic levitation (maglev) trains will soon rise at the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA).
Sec. Raul Lambino, CEZA administrator and chief executive officer, said two Chinese firms have taken a significant step towards putting up the first manufacturing center in the country of the world’s fastest trains and expected to generate thousands of jobs for Filipinos.
Lambino said Ceza has entered into a tripartite memorandum of understanding with Eminova Asset Management Ltd. and Hunan Goke Maglev Technology Development Ltd. for the establishment of the Maglev Research and Development Center for Production and Training Hub in this northern coastal town of Cagayan.
Eminova, represented by its co-Chairman Simeon Chan, is a Hong Kong-based independent investment fund management of Australian and European financiers. Its portfolio also covers projects in energy, environment, global entertainment and major infrastructure investments.
On the other hand, Hunan Goke Maglev Technology Development Ltd., represented by its Chief Executive Officer Liu Shaolong, is the second but now the largest magnetic levitation line builder in the world after the Germans built the first maglev train system in Shanghai.
Lambino said Eminova, also a leading international network offering financial advisory, fund acquisition and management services, will be the project proponent of the maglev project in the country, primarily responsible for the financing of the start-up phase of the joint-venture.
“The initial project cost is estimated at $1 billion for the R&D [research and development] and production models of the cutting-edge, low-magnetic radiation, zero-derailment risk maglev trains that run on low noise and without friction and vibration,” Lambino said.
He added that there is a need to be aggressive and innovative in promoting the Cagayan Valley’s competitive edge in the freeport.
“We have relatively cheap labor, highly-skilled workers, vast tracks of unused lands and attractive fiscal incentives,” Lambino said.
The Maglev R&D project has further diversified investments coming into the Cagayan ecozone, 15 months into Lambino’s term as head of CEZA.
In May, Lambino launched the “Crypto in the Valley” initiative that attracted more than two dozen start-up companies engaged in financial technology (fintech) solutions and overseas trading of crypto currencies such as bitcoin and etherium.
Earlier, he secured a major $100 million investment from Shanghai Jucheng Supply Management Group to develop the ecozone into an integrated resort promoting its pristine beaches, nature getaways and entertainment.
The CEZA chief said the maglev project would be patterned after the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority’s Hanjin Shipyard facility to generate massive local employment.
The Hanjin Shipyard in the Redondo Peninsula is considered to be the world’s second largest shipbuilding facility for huge cargo vessels, providing more than 30,000 jobs for Filipinos.