Freeport Area of Bataan registers P14-B in investments in 2023

<p>Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan <em>(Photo from FAB FB page)</em></p>

Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (Photo from FAB FB page)

MANILA – The Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB) has registered PHP14-B in investments, most of which came in since Administrator and CEO Mohammed Hussein P. Pangandaman assumed office in May 2023.

The San Miguel conglomerate led local locators with investments going into the expansion of their food processing and power generation plants.

Meanwhile, industrial mold and lamination producer GQ Horizon, specialty detergent maker Kirubai, and safety apparel and harness manufacturer Surex Safe Venture, led foreign locators with additional investments into their existing facilities.

The Freeport Area of Bataan (FAB) is also soon looking to an increase in its worker base, which at the end of 2023 stood at 40,895, with 93 percent of whom come from within the province.

In a recent interview, Korea-based sports and outdoor equipment manufacturer and FAB locator Dong In revealed that it was looking to hire 10,000 more workers, as it sought to expand its operations at the Freeport.

“We’re certainly pleased with the investment commitments – it’s a show of confidence in the value of FAB as a Freeport, and in the work put in by Team AFAB,” Pangandaman said in a news release on Monday.

Pangandaman also said this year, AFAB is eyeing a significant increase in investments as the Freeport now expands its focus, to take advantage of its unique, game-changing Charter.

With the pandemic over, he added, AFAB is determined to finally embrace its new Charter more fully.

Five years ago, the Charter of AFAB was amended with the objective of a two-fold expansion – an expansion of the types of economic activities allowed to operate at FAB, and an expansion of its physical area through the registration of other sites throughout Bataan.

Pangandaman has personally led efforts to attract a wider variety of locators to FAB.

Companies in fintech, blockchain, gaming, and defense are now among 35 that have already submitted letters of intent to locate there, in the last 10 months.

At their main zone in Mariveles, Pangandaman has also begun redevelopment of the Freeport, allocating space for a central business district, developing its famed Mattel beachfront, and reviving its long-dormant golf course.

The potential of these developments will be underscored, with the anticipated completion of the Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge, major infrastructure project of the Marcos Administration that will connect the Province of Bataan to strategic economic spots in southern Luzon.

“FAB lies at the end of the Roman Highway and the tip of the Bataan Peninsula, but – very soon – it will also be a destination in itself for business, and even for tourism,” he said.

At the same time, 10 out of 17 registered Freeport Expansion Areas (FEAs) scattered across the province have already begun operations. Under the AFAB’s new Charter, locators in these FEAs enjoy the same benefits and incentives as those in the main zone in Mariveles.

“It’s a milestone year for us – 55 years since the establishment of Mariveles as the Philippines’ first free trade zone, 15 years since that zone became the Freeport Area of Bataan or FAB under the management of AFAB, and 5 years since the amendment of our Charter – and as we look back to recognize and honor our past, we also look forward to our future,” Pangandaman said. “There’s definitely a lot to look forward to at FAB.” (PNA)