Japanese investors pressing for more ecozone proclamations

JAPANESE investors are counting on the government to proclaim more economic zones, according to the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

PEZA said the pace of proclamations was an issue brought up by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Inc. (JCCIPI) during the group’s annual general meeting on May 17.

The chamber also brought up the lack of competitiveness in the Philippine investing environment.

“JCCIPI members are asking if the Office of the President (OP) can speed up the process for ecozone proclamation to provide ready-for-occupancy sites for new and expanding investors,” PEZA Director General Tereso O. Panga told reporters via Viber.

“The President has tasked PEZA, OP, and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to harmonize and streamline the ecozone proclamation process to facilitate the creation of more ecozones, particularly in the countryside,” he added.

Mr. Panga added that another issue raised by the JCCIPI is the need for more flexible rules regarding on-site work for ecozone locators.

“Their clamor is for PEZA registered business enterprises (RBEs) to be able to avail of flexi-work with incentives following the same treatment for Board of Investments (BoI) RBEs,” Mr. Panga said.

“In PEZA, we are pushing for hybrid workplaces with a maximum 30% allowance for work from home (WFH) by our locators. Most of our locators would like to keep their PEZA registration and sites, while availing of flexible work,” he added.

In September, the Fiscal Incentives Review Board allowed registered information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) firms to offer 100% WFH arrangements if they shift their registration to the BoI from PEZA.

Meanwhile, PEZA and the JCCIPI agreed to strengthen efforts to attract more investors and promote the Philippines as an investment destination.

“The remarkable contributions of our Japanese locator companies serve as a prime example of the strong partnership and economic progress achieved through the collaboration between Japan and the Philippines, which we continue to fortify,” Mr. Panga said.   

To date, 884 Japanese enterprises are registered with PEZA, having invested P745.637 billion and generating direct employment of 345,807 workers.

For 2023, PEZA has approved three Japanese investments involving capital of P20.951 billion.

“It is now up to us to follow through on the investment pledges we received during the various investment missions abroad done especially by President Marcos, the best salesman in promoting the Philippines for greater trade and investment opportunities,” Mr. Panga said.

This year, PEZA is targeting 10% growth in investment approvals. It approved P140.7 billion worth of investments in 2022, more than double the 2021 total. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave