Vietnamese firm keen on investing in PH’s battery production

By Kris Crismundo and Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

January 30, 2024, 5:37 pm

<p><strong>INVESTMENT PLAN</strong>. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Monday (Jan. 29, 2023) meets with Vietnam’s real estate firm Vingroup on the first day of his trip to Hanoi. During the meeting, Vingroup expressed its plan to invest in electric vehicle battery production in the Philippines. <em>(Photo from PBBM’s official Facebook page)</em></p>

INVESTMENT PLAN. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Monday (Jan. 29, 2023) meets with Vietnam’s real estate firm Vingroup on the first day of his trip to Hanoi. During the meeting, Vingroup expressed its plan to invest in electric vehicle battery production in the Philippines. (Photo from PBBM’s official Facebook page)

MANILA – Vietnam’s largest real estate firm Vingroup has expressed interest in investing in the production of electric vehicle (EV) batteries in the Philippines, Malacañang said Tuesday.

The plan was discussed during President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s meeting with Vingroup executives on the first day of his state visit to Vietnam on Monday, Presidential Communications Operations (PCO) Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement.

Garafil said Marcos is elated by the “timely” offer of Vingroup, given that the country is currently implementing the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

During the meeting, Marcos acknowledged the importance of Vingroup’s planned investment in the EV battery production, as he stressed that old jeepneys and tricycles will be replaced with modern units.

“I am very happy to note your interest in expanding your operations to the Philippines and you’ve just begun organizing offices there. And I think there is much that you could do,” Marcos told Vingroup’s top executives, as quoted by the PCO.

“The Vingroup is well-known in the Philippines because we are very much aligned [with] what we would like to do in the future in terms of electrical vehicle battery production,” he added.

Marcos told Vingroup officials led by chairperson Pham Nhat Vuong and vice chairperson and chief executive officer (CEO) Nguyen Viet Quang, that the Philippine government is consolidating the PUV operators and drivers into cooperatives and finalizing the vehicles’ specification.

He added that with regard to EVs, there is a proposal to leave the market open to have many suppliers to hasten the full implementation of the PUVMP.

Marcos also touted the ”young, skilled, and educated” Filipino workforce as “one of the [country’s] greatest assets,” noting that providing scholarships, upskilling and reskilling are crucial in empowering them.

“The key to taking the full advantage of that workforce is for the skills… to get them [workers] to acquire the skills that are necessary for cybersecurity, digital banking, digital transfers of money and of course AI (artificial intelligence),” he said.

In a Facebook post after his meeting with Vingroup, Marcos said the government looks forward to its future collaboration with the Vietnamese company on EV production and local mineral processing.

He also thanked the firm for the offer of about 20 scholarships aimed at making the Filipinos “competitive in this digital era.”

Garafil said the Philippines could support Vingroup’s venture, noting that the country has good reserves of nickel, cobalt, and copper.

“Although the Philippines is currently exporting minerals, it would like to increase the value in the Philippines by doing the processing in the country, Marcos said,” she said.

Vingroup is a multi-sector corporation that focuses on technology and industry, trade and services and social enterprise.

Serving as one of Vietnam's leading private enterprises, Vingroup continues to pioneer and lead consumer trends in each of its businesses and has created a respected, well-recognized Vietnamese brand.

Its subsidiary, Vinfast, is registering its subsidiary in the Philippines (Vinfast Philippines) to implement their entry into EV marketing, energy storage and nickel processing partnerships, state-run Radio Television Malacañang said in a statement posted on its official Facebook page.

For his part, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual urged VinFast to explore opportunities beyond opening dealership networks in the Philippines.

Pascual, who accompanied President Marcos in Vietnam, said VinFast has more opportunities in the Philippine market beyond selling its EVs through dealership business, which will open by April 2024.

He said the country becomes an attractive EV market with the issuance of Executive Order (EO) 12 which eliminates duty on completely built-up units of certain EVs.

"The Philippines welcomes investments in the EV sector as we position the country as a hub for smart and sustainability-driven manufacturing and services industries in Southeast Asia. Hence, we encourage you to explore other investment opportunities besides EV sales and dealerships," he said in a statement.

The DTI chief also presented the opportunities for the company in mineral processing in the Philippines, which is part of the EV supply chain.

Pascual also said the government provides green lane treatment for strategic investments like mineral processing.

In October 2023, VinFast representatives visited the Philippines where they met local mining companies.

Pascual similarly urged the Vingroup Joint Stock Company to look into opportunities in the tourism and healthcare sectors.

"As we work to increase our FDIs (foreign direct investments) from Vietnam and advance our economic cooperation, we hope that VinFast will make it happen in the Philippines," Pascual said.

The administration targets to be the second highest FDI destination in ASEAN by 2028.

Excluding Singapore, top FDI destinations in the region are Indonesia and Vietnam.

The Philippines net FDI inflows of USD5.88 billion in the third quarter last year already overtook Malaysia's USD4.99 billion and Thailand's USD4.44 billion. (PNA)