Marcos wants Philippines to become hub for smart manufacturing

Louella Desiderio, Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Marcos wants Philippines to become hub for smart manufacturing
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on May 18, 2024.
STAR / Ryan Baldemor

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is counting on its strengths and engagements to transform its economy into a regional hub for smart and sustainable manufacturing and services, President Marcos said, as he urged investors to unlock the growth opportunities offered by the country’s “thriving” economy.

In his keynote remarks during the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Taguig City, Marcos said the Philippines occupies a “strategic position” in the region and is leveraging its geopolitical location, economic engagements and participation in regional agreements.

He noted that the Indo-Pacific region accounts for over a third of global economic activity, a condition that he said presents “immense opportunities” for the Philippines.

The President described the Philippines’ economic achievements as “outstanding,” citing the Philippines’ 5.5 percent GDP growth last year, which surpassed major economies in Asia and the four consecutive months of expansion of its foreign direct investments (FDIs).

“Through these economic strengths, we aspire to transform the Philippine economy into a regional hub for smart and sustainable manufacturing and (services),” he said.

The Chief Executive reiterated the importance of forging partnerships, saying Indo-Pacific Economic Forum partner-countries play a key role in the Philippines’ robust economic growth and contribute substantially to its FDI and other approved investments.

Indo-Pacific investors have the potential to contribute significantly to the expansion of micro, small and medium enterprises, which contribute the bulk of the employment in the country, according to Marcos.

Luzon Economic Corridor

Marcos went on to enumerate measures and collaborations that are seen to make the Philippines a more attractive investment destination.

He mentioned the Luzon Economic Corridor, a project launched during last month’s historic trilateral summit in Washington.

He said the government has earmarked key projects to spur growth in the corridor and to create strategic connections between Subic, Clark and the Calabarzon region, which he called “a prime location for export-manufacturing firms.”

“These initiatives will enhance freight transport services, mobility and access to key economic zones, ensuring business continuity and positioning the Philippines as a regional hub for agribusiness and logistics in the Asia-Pacific,” he added.

The President likewise highlighted the legislation that allows 100 percent foreign ownership of renewable energy sources; efforts to develop priority industries like electronics, semiconductors and critical minerals and the government-led strategy to enhance digital infrastructure, connectivity and business facilitation.

“The Philippines also offers a strategic location with a robust experience and record in the IT-BPM (information technology-business process management) competencies and a strong direction towards upgrading business process outsourcing into knowledge process outsourcing such as market intelligence, business analytics, legal services and AI (artificial intelligence), amongst others,” he said.

“Furthermore, the Philippines can serve as a platform for companies to access the more than 600-million-strong Southeast Asian consumer market. Our proximity to these growing economies can allow them to enter other supply chains and be part of inter-country economic systems, creating more opportunities for collaboration and for partnership,” he added.

Marcos expressed optimism that the Build Better More infrastructure program, which encompasses 185 priority projects worth P9.5 trillion, will transform the Philippines’ infrastructure landscape and contribute to its goal to be the next logistics hub in Asia.

“But achieving this requires a whole-of-nation approach, particularly private investments. Therefore, we invite foreign investors to participate in this endeavor through public-private partnerships, engineering, procurement and construction contracts, and for feasibility studies, as well,” he said.

The President also talked about laws and policies aimed at luring more investors, including the Public-Private Partnership Code, which he said has accelerated the delivery of critical projects; the Maharlika Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund that seeks to support critical infrastructure projects; the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises or CREATE Act; the Ease of Doing Business Act and the executive order on green lanes for strategic investments.

“Upcoming in the pipeline is the CREATE More Act, which represents a significant leap forward as we expand and refine the incentives introduced under the original CREATE Act. Through this, we are making the Philippines even more attractive for investments, both local and foreign,” he said. — Sheila Crisostomo

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