PEZA partners with banks to lure more Japanese investors

By Kris Crismundo

January 23, 2024, 6:18 pm

MANILA – The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) aims to continue attracting Japanese investors into ecozones by partnering with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. (SMBC) and the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC).

PEZA Director General Tereso Panga, SMBC managing executive officer and co-head of Asia Pacific Yuichi Nishimura, and RCBC president and chief executive officer Eugene Acevedo signed in Pasay City Tuesday a memorandum of understanding (MOU), making the two banks as PEZA's investment promotion partners (IPPs).

"This MOU is targeted to spur economic development —continuously positioning the country as an attractive investment destination characterized by agility and responsiveness to the needs and demands of our dynamic investors. The concerted efforts of our esteemed investment promotion partners will actively encourage and increase investments, especially those from Japanese companies," Panga said.

Through the partnership, PEZA, SMBC and RCBC will host investment seminars for potential investors, highlighting business opportunities in the ecozones across the country.

Panga said they will be holding an investment seminar for SMBC clients that could be potential locators in PEZA by March.

Japan remains PEZA's top source of foreign investments. To date, there are 807 Japanese companies inside PEZA zones, with total investments of PHP797.83 billion.

These Japanese firms generated USD13.45 billion in exports and 336,442 direct jobs as of October 2023.

In an interview, Nishimura said the Philippines offers big opportunities for Japanese companies to invest into, and SMBC could help in financing the capital of these firms.

"We want to contribute to the Philippines as a country. So, whatever the government initiatives, for example to further enhance the high-tech areas, our capacity of high-tech areas, pharmaceutical, medical equipment, those more value-added areas could be the one," Nishimura told reporters.

He said the electric vehicle manufacturing is an emerging sector in the Philippines where Japanese companies can participate.

Acevedo said SMBC, as one of the world's largest financing houses for renewable projects, could tap investment opportunities in the country's renewable energy sector with the pipeline of renewable projects.

Positive outlook

Meanwhile, Acevedo has an optimistic outlook on bank borrowings this year as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is expected to ease its monetary policy.

After a slowdown in growth in 2023, Acevedo expects that bank loans will start to move up this year.

"We see that it is starting to move up this year, especially as inflation appears to be contained, and the industry expects (the central bank) to start cutting rates this year... which should encourage more borrowing," he said. (PNA)