By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT
The Board of Investments (BOI) is confident of the entry of at least one foreign-owned test kit manufacturer to locate in the country within the year.
BOI Managing Head Ceferino S. Rodolfo said in an online briefing, “Am sure we can have an investor of a rapid test kit this year, at the very least one rapid test kit manufacturer.”
What is uncertain though is from what country this investor would come from although Rodolfo said that current sources of test kits being used for COVID-19 are US, China, Japan and Korea only.
Rodolfo, however, hinted of the likelihood of a Korean investor for a rapid test kit and an American company, but he asked for confidentiality the identities of these potential investors.
Rodolfo will be leading a mission to Korea first week of June, next month, together with officials from the Departments of Health, Science and Technology and Food and Drugs Administration to discuss the country’s free trade agreement with Korea. They will also meet with potential Korean firm manufacturers of rapid test kits and PCR-based test kits and other Korean manufacturing firms.
Rodolfo said the Korean government and the DTI commercial attache office in Korea are the ones arranging the meetings, including the two rapid test kits manufacturers.
The Korea rapid test kit manufacturer is producing three times higher than the cost of China. Korea is a PCR-based producer, the gold standard in testing. It is also producing rapid test kits but mainly for exports.
As such, Rodolfo said, it is more advantageous if these Korean firms choose the Philippines as production hub for COVID related products as it would be more cost competitive to manufacture here.
Despite the global shortage of COVID-related products, Rodolfo pointed out that the Philippines chose not to ban their exports unlike what other countries have done. Instead, the Philippine government incentivized manufacturers to in¬crease their production to be able to supply to the domestic market and maintain their exports.
This has resulted in the improvement of local production of face masks from only 7 million capacity to 25 million units at present.
Rodolfo said this is a good narrative for the Philippines to attract foreign manufacturers of COVID-related products to invest in the country.
Rodolfo said they have already scouted for equipment supplier in China for rapid test for ₱630,000 to ₱3 million only, but the more difficult is the PCR -based test kits as it requires a bio security laboratory building and specially trained people, among others.