By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Hong Kong-based firms engaged in technology and finance have proposed to establish the first training and production center in the Philippines for Maglev (magnetic levitation) trains, the world’s fastest trains, according to Secretary Raul Lambino, administrator and CEO of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA).
Lambino has signed a tripartite memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Eminova Asset Management Ltd. and Hunan Goke Maglev Technology Development Ltd. for the establishment of the Maglev Research and Development Center for Production and Training Hub in Sta. Ana, Cagayan.
Eminova, a Hong Kong based independent investment fund management of Australian and European funders, was represented by its co-chairman Simeon Chan. Its portfolio also covers projects in energy, environment, global entertainment and major infrastructure investments.
Hunan Goke Maglev Technology Development Ltd. was represented by its chief executive officer Liu Shaolong. It is the second but now the largest magnetic levitation line builder in the world after the Germans built the first Maglev train system in Shanghai.
Aside from being a leading international network offering financial advisory, fund acquisition and management services, Eminova Asset Management Ltd. will be the project proponent of the Maglev project in the country, primarily responsible for the financing of the start-up phase of the joint-venture.
In a statement, Lambino said the initial project cost is estimated at $1-billion for the R&D and production models of the cutting-edge, low-magnetic radiation, zero-derailment risk Maglev trains that run on low noise and without friction and vibration.
The Maglev production line in CEZA, Lambino said, would roll out light rail vehicles, and medium and high-speed Maglev trains from 200km to 400km per hour for neighboring countries in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines.
Lambino said CEZA would provide the land area for foreign exchanger-intensive project aside from making representations with the national government and Congress for fiscal incentives and other support systems.
“We need to be aggressive and innovative in promoting our competitive edge in the Freeport, said Lambino, who is concurrent Presidential Adviser for Northern Luzon.
“We have relatively cheap labor, highly-skilled workers, vast tracks of unused lands and attractive fiscal incentives,” said Lambino.
The Maglev R&D project has further diversified investments coming into the Freeport 15 months into Lambino’s term as head of the agency.
In May, Lambino launched the “Crypto in the Valley” initiative that attracted more than two dozen start-up companies engaged in financial technology (Fintech) solutions and overseas trading of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and etherium.
Earlier, Lambino secured a major $100-million investment from Shanghai Jucheng Supply Management Group to develop the CSEZFP into an integrated resort promoting its pristine beaches, nature getaways and entertainment.
He said the Maglev project would be patterned after the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority’s Hanjin Shipyard facility to generate massive local employment.
The Hanjin Shipyard in the Redondo Peninsula is considered to be the world’s second largest ship-building facility for huge cargo vessels, providing more than 30,000 jobs for Filipinos.