BOI woos Japanese medical supplies makers to invest in Philippines

Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - February 22, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Board of Investments (BOI) is encouraging Japanese makers of personal protective equipment (PPE), hygiene products, and medical supplies to consider the Philippines as a manufacturing base.

In a statement, the BOI said it recently held an online briefing with members of the Japan Hygiene Products Industry Association to present investment opportunities and the competitive advantage of the country as a manufacturing base.

“Our large population, rich talent pool and access to key markets open up various opportunities for Japanese manufacturers of PPEs, hygiene and other related products as they explore business expansion or diversification. Our country can serve both as their market and manufacturing base for exports. Throughout this unprecedented global health emergency, the Philippines has proven itself as a manufacturing hub for PPE and other medical supplies vital to fighting the pandemic. We did not impose import or export restrictions and even assisted foreign manufacturers and exporters, including Japanese firms, at the height of the lockdowns enabling them to continue their factory operations,” BOI officer-in-charge director Lanie Dormiendo said.

Yokoisada  (Phils.) Corp. chief executive officer Yuki Yokoi said the Japanese face mask manufacturer, which has operations in the Philippines, has seen the advantage offered by the country.

“The strategic location of the Philippines has been a great advantage for our company because our main markets are in East Asia and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). There is also available skilled and English-speaking workforce. During the lockdown, the Department of Trade and Industry-BOI assisted us in the transit of our employees, movement of cargoes, and sourcing of raw materials,” he said.

As the   government provided support for firms engaged in the manufacture of products in high demand due to the pandemic,  Yokoi said the company decided to expand and double its current production capacity with the financial assistance received from Japan’s government subsidy for its supply chain diversification program.

Given the strong demand for PPE, hygiene products and medical devices worldwide, the Philippine government is implementing programs to provide support, which include fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to manufacturers of these products.

At present, the country has an active PPE manufacturing sector with 300 businesses engaged in the textile and garments industry and 510,000 highly skilled workers able to produce PPEs.

Over 80 million face masks, 10.2 million pieces of medical-grade coveralls and 65,700 face shields are being made in the country per month.

Local companies engaged in the production of alcoholic beverages, personal care, and food manufacturing have also repurposed their facilities to produce sanitizers, disinfectants and similar products that saw increased demand due to the pandemic.

So far, 42 production lines, including textile factories, garment plants and yarn spinning mills, have been repurposed to manufacture PPE.

The country is also able to produce 1.5 million liters of alcohol, sanitizer and hand spray per month.

“Heeding the call of the government to repurpose manufacturing to produce medical grade PPE products and fabric, CPMP (Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE) was established to strengthen the growth of our local PPE manufacturers and sustain our supply chain,” CPMP vice chairman Ferdinand Ferrer said.

He said the group is open to partnerships and investments from Japanese counterparts to explore more opportunities.

As part of efforts to get more investors to come to the country, the BOI with the Philippine Trade and Investment Centers in Tokyo and Osaka would be holding two other webinars for businesses considering expansion or relocation to the country with one covering different sectors next month, and another focused on the pharmaceutical industry in May.

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