Numerous companies of Malaysia, the Middle East, China, Japan and others are now in discussions and being invited to invest in the Philippines’ tax-free industrial, agricultural, tourism, forestry, defense industry and other Special Economic Zones (SEZs) “due to President Rody Duterte’s new independent foreign policy to make the Philippines a friend of all countries and enemy of no one”, said the new director-general of Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Dr. Charito “Ching” B. Plaza on November 21 at the Pandesal Forum of 77-year-old Kamuning Bakery Café in Quezon City.
PEZA Director-General Dr. Plaza said that the Philippines traditionally received foreign investments in the past from the United States and its allies like Japan and the West, but now investors and governments of other countries in the Middle East, Russia, China and other regions are also being invited to invest in the fast-growing economy of the Philippines. She said these defense industrial complexes can rise in Bataan, Zambales, Palawan, and at least in two areas of Mindanao.
Plaza said the Duterte government also has a bold vision to transform some of the country’s islands into self-contained SEZs which can become future cities.
Plaza said officials and members of royal families United Arab Emirates and Qatar have expressed interest to lease land here for 75 years for possible agricultural and oil refinery projects, with one interested group even asking for as much as a million hectares of agricultural land in exchange for part of the venture’s profits to be donated as social development projects and schools. Dr. Plaza mentioned that among those she had discussed possible SEZ investments was Sheikh Al Thani of the respected Qatari royal family. One possible major SEZ project is the creation of a halal food processing hub in Davao, in Mindanao, southern Philippines.
PEZA Director-General Plaza added that they are also proposing the creation of defense industry SEZs with countries like Russia, China, Israel, South Korea or others. She added that these defense industrial complexes will not only boost economic development, they can also strengthen the Philippines’ national defense and manufacturing capabilities. Plaza had the rank of brigadier general in the military reserve force.
Dr, Plaza added that President Duterte’s economics-focused diplomacy and independent foreign policy are boosting our ties with Asean and Asian countries, with Malaysian investors expressing interest in undertaking business ventures in the Philippines such as a large-scale palm oil planation and milling project.
PEZA Director-General Dr. Charito Plaza said the Duterte government’s pro-poor priority shall encourage more foreign and also Philippine investors to do business in the poorest and neglected yet resource-rich rural regions of the country such as in Mindanao and the Visayas.