Cebu attracts 3rd shipbuilder

Published November 4, 2020, 6:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

American-owned shipbuilder Advanced Catamaran Composites (ACC) Inc. is investing in the expanding West Cebu Industrial Park (WCIP), cementing Cebu’s claim as the shipbuilding capital of the Philippines having three shipbuilder locators to date.

Eduardo Aboitiz, Vice President for Business Development of the Aboitiz Integrated Economic Centers, said Advanced Catamaran Composites will start operation in the first quarter of next year. Advanced Catamaran is an American-owned but based in the Philippines.

West Cebu Industrial Park (WCIP) is a 540-hectare mixed-use development in Balamban, Cebu, which hosts 11 locators from medium to heavy industries.

Aboitiz did not provide additional details as to the investments of ACC Inc. but said that WCIP operator Cebu Industrial Park Developers Inc. (CIPDI) has been in talks with several potential investors, including ACC Inc., despite the pandemic to locate in the remaining WCIP lots. CIPDI is a joint venture between the Aboitiz Group and the Tsuneishi Group of Japan.

 “We are excited to have Advanced Catamaran Composites as our newest locator in the West Cebu Industrial Park. With our 30-hectare expansion set to break ground next year, we are hoping to attract more locators to Balamban,” said Aboitiz.

The American-owned shipyard manufactures and specializes in FRP (Fiber Reinforced Plastic) boats ranging from 14 to 26 meters.

The company’s objective is to share its expertise with operators wishing to modernize their fleet of passenger vessels in accordance with the new regulations in the country. They use modern laminating processes into their integrated modular design system and with this, they have installed a rational production line based on the widespread use of CNC machines and large mechanical handling means.

ACC also pays special attention to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption that will reduce operational costs and improve the life and the maintenance costs of every ship. Based on proven scientific researches, they propose designs of energy-efficient catamaran ferries that can offer better passenger comfort.

Their range of boats covers a large part of the market needs and not only in the Philippines but also in South East Asia thus a demand for the export market is very advantageous.

“At Aboitiz, we are committed to making lasting partnerships with our locators by ensuring the ease of doing business and providing them with fully integrated solutions of infrastructure services such as power, water, and land. WCIP is only set to grow further, and now is the perfect time to invest here,” he added.

The industrial park is anchored on the 283-hectare economic zone that currently hosts 11 medium to heavy industry locators, including the world’s biggest shipbuilding firms in the world such as Tsuneishi and Austal of Australia. This makes Balamban, located 52.8 kilometers away west of Cebu City, the shipbuilding capital of the Philippines.

              In a statement, Aboitiz said they are adding 30 hectares over the next three years to WCIP for a total of 540-hectare development to allow more industrial spaces, commercial centers, transport terminals, dormitories, residential, and leisure components for tourists.

The expansion of the economic zone, which is registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, is expected to create job opportunities to 5,000 Filipinos by 2022. At present, WCIP employs more than 14,000 skilled workers mostly working for its industrial and commercial locator firms.

WCIP is strategically located and is known to be a major industrial belt with its proximity to various access points. It is accessible by land via the Transcentral Highway and South Coastal Road via Manipis Road or Naga City from the province’s capital, as well as sea through a private shipping port for common logistics support.

To help support locators’ manpower requirements, nearby is the Balamban Campus of the University of San Jose-Recoletos, which offers basic education up to Senior High level, and Don Bosco Balamban Technological Center, which offers skills training programs on welding (arc and smaw), practical electricity, sewing, automotive mechanic, and soon AutoCAD.

Like other Aboitiz Integrated Economic Centers, WCIP is thoughtfully planned and masterfully designed so people can work, live, and play within a secure, interconnected, and engaging environment.

“Our vision is to transform WCIP into a fully integrated economic center that will spur further economic growth in the area, similar to our two developments LIMA Estate in Batangas and Mactan Economic Zone II in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu. With its strategic location, skilled population, lower cost of doing business, and well-established ecosystem of infrastructure, we believe that WCIP is the ideal location for light, medium, and heavy industries looking to expand or locate in Cebu,” said Rafael Fernandez De Mesa, First Vice President for Operations of the Aboitiz Integrated Economic Centers.

As a Special Economic Zone, import and export businesses in WCIP enjoy tax incentives and other privileges. It also offers a secure location and ease of doing business.

In 1992, Balamban, Cebu was a simple coastal town which transformed into a first-class municipality when CIPDI began operations in the area to develop WCIP.

Tsuneishi Heavy Industries started developing land and construction of shipbuilding facilities in 1994. Today, it has grown to become one of the largest shipbuilding factories in the Philippines with the capacity to build about 20 vessels per year.

Tsuneishi Heavy Industries started developing land and construction of shipbuilding facilities in 1994. Today, it has grown to become one of the largest shipbuilding factories in the Philippines with the capacity to build about 20 vessels per year.

The expansion is expected to sustain to WCIP’s growth story and turn Balamban into a more vibrant city.