PASAY CITY — Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Tereso O. Panga lauded the results of the recently concluded high-level Trade Mission sent by US President Joseph R. Biden to the Philippines and led by US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo last March 11-12, 2023.

“This is the start of a reinvigorated relationship that will augur well not just for the United States and the Philippines but also for our neighbors in the Region!” declared the PEZA Chief.

PEZA is positioning itself as a hub for US investments that will be a bridge between ASEAN and the Indo-Pacific as it moves towards creating a global value chain with an emphasis on investments from key sectors including manufacturing, renewable energy, science and technology, among others.

“All investments are welcome from all countries!” DG Panga noted right after his presentation at the PH-US Trade and Investment Mission (PTIM) Forum in Fairmont Makati where he also delivered the closing remarks.

PEZA Director General Panga delivering his closing remarks at the PTIM Forum
(Photo courtesy of the Philippine Board of Investments)

The US Department of State and US Trade Administration have continually lauded PEZA, stating that “the business environment has been notably better in special economic zones, particularly those available for export businesses operated by PEZA. PEZA has received positive feedback for its regulatory transparency, no red-tape policy, and one-stop shop services for investors.”

The United States is the 2nd largest foreign investor in the ecozones, Japan being number 1. US investments account for 355 companies in PEZA, contributing PhP 404.368 Billion of investments, US$ 10.352 Billion exports, and 368,511 direct jobs as of date.

The PEZA Chief likewise highlighted, “This partnership can strategically de-risk and diversify global value chains, positioning the Philippines as your +1 in Asia. With the Philippines as your ideal hub in the region, the ASEAN and Asia-Pacific could serve as your manufacturing and distribution gateway.”

Among the US companies that have already expressed some form of interest include:

  • Sol-Go Philippines Inc., a PEZA-registered solar panel manufacturer that has facilities in Lima Technology Center – Special Economic Zone, with plans to invest $5 million to expand their local operations.
  • US private equity firm KKR & Co. will expand its investments in the Philippines by another $400 million according to the US Department of Commerce.
  • The Foundation International in partnership with Arizona-based firm Legacy EV will develop the country’s first electric mobility education and development center.

“The Philippines is not only prepared but eager to continue and expand our business ventures with the United States… We are ready to roll out the red carpet and are fully equipped to offer the optimal business environment, ecosystem, and a nurturing home for your business in Southeast Asia, throughout Asia, and across the Indo-Pacific,” said DG Panga in his closing remarks.

Philippine-US Trade and Investment Mission Forum in Fairmont Makati

PH-US Trade and Investment Mission

This high-level presidential delegation marked the fulfillment of US President Joe Biden’s commitment to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during his state visit to Washington, D.C. in May 2023.

Secretary Raimondo and her team were welcomed by President Marcos and his economic team including Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual and Special Assistant to the President for Investment and Economic Affairs (SAPIEA) Secretary Frederick Go in Malacañan wherein President Marcos stated that investing in the Philippines brings a multitude of advantages for investors, most notably the country’s strategic geographical situation in Southeast Asia and its dynamic workforce.

President Marcos Jr. welcoming US Secretary Raimondo (left) and Trade Secretary Pascual and SAPIEA Secretary Go after the forum (right)
(Photo courtesy of the Presidential Communications Office and The Star)

Simultaneously, the PTIM Forum was organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Embassy of the United States of America in the Philippines in Fairmont Makati where DG Panga and the other IPAs pitched the Philippines to officials of 22 top Fortune 500 companies from an array of sectors including manufacturing, renewable energy, science and technology, among others.

According to Secretary Raimondo, the US companies that joined the mission are expected to invest more than $ 1 billion in the Philippines for either new ventures or expansion of their businesses.

Investment Opportunities

During the forum, Panga likewise expressed that the Philippines is looking forward to taking advantage of the newly passed CHIPS Act and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework in keeping with the US’ goal to diversify their chip supply chain.

According to US Secretary Raimondo, “US companies have realized our chip supply chain is way too concentrated in just a few countries in just a few countries in the world… You know the old adage, ‘Don’t put your eggs in one basket’. Why do we allow ourselves to buy so many of our chips from one or two countries? That’s why we need to diversify.”

PH Government meeting with US Secretary of Commerce Raimondo and her team
(Photo courtesy of the Department of Trade and Investment)

As such, Panga expressed, “We are optimistic about our flourishing partnerships with American investors in various sectors most especially in the Electronic and Semiconductor Manufacturing Services, our bread and butter. This collaboration is expected to enhance our nation’s capabilities in assembly, packaging, and testing, and propel us into sophisticated integrated circuit design and, eventually, wafer fabrication.”

“We are also eyeing leading American companies in the areas of regenerative agriculture, alternative and renewable energy, e-mobility, green ores processing, drug and medical equipment manufacturing, tourism, agriculture, and digital and frontier technology to locate their facilities in the Philippines,” he added.

Aside from this, the Philippines is also extending the invitation to other countries to come and look at the Philippines for their business and investment ventures. “Other countries should not see the US Trade Mission as a threat, but rather see it in a positive light as it strengthens the resiliency of general trade in the region,” said Panga.

The United States remains the top export destination of the Philippines based on the latest PSA report. ♦

Date of release: 15 March 2024