South Korean firms have invested P53.982 billion, generated $1.095 billion and provided 42,675 jobs to Filipinos in various economic zones in the country to date, according to the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
PEZA Director General Charito “Ching” Plaza revealed this as she expressed appreciation of South Korean firms’ contribution to the Philippine economy during the 11th Global Biz with PEZA” forum focusing on fostering Philippine-South Korea investment opportunities through ecozone development. Plaza said there are 320 Korean companies registered with PEZA as of September 2021.
South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Kim In-Chul and the Philippine Ambassador to South Korea Maria Theresa Dizon-De Vega were present during the forum to share their expertise in terms of trade and economic bilateral relations between the two countries.
To complement this, PEZA implemented various “balancing acts and business assistance” to its registered enterprises and ensure unhampered services as they contribute to the global supply and demand.
“We are not letting this crisis hinder us, rather, we continue our relentless efforts to attract and invite investors. We establish new partnerships as well with various government agencies so that we may be able to urge more local and foreign investors to do business in the Philippines by improving the efficiency factors for investments,” stated the PEZA Chief.
For her part, Ambassador De Vega said the Philippines continues to invite South Korea to help propel the country’s growth, which is being shaped by the realities of the new normal. De Vega cited the need of the Philippines to build back better and move into a forward-looking, innovative, green, and resilient manner.
Ambassador De Vega noted that the pandemic did not hamper the Philippines’ economic relation with South Korea, stating that in 2020, the Republic of Korea was the 5th major trading partner of the Philippines out of 225 trading partners. South Korea is also Philippines’ 7th biggest export market out of 213 markets, and 4th largest import supplier out of 205 Philippine suppliers. Total bilateral trade was valued at $13.92 billion.”
Meanwhile, Korean Chamber of Commerce Philippines (KCCP) President Ho-Ik Lee has pointed out that there are still various reasons affecting Korean investors’ decision to invest in the Philippines. These include the limitation and restrictions of foreign equity in land ownership in the country.
Plaza explained that land ownership in the country is a policy embodied in the Philippine Constitution. To remedy this challenge, Plaza said that PEZA is adapting the Transformation Roadmap, which seeks to address what she called as “efficiency factors” that investors are looking for when investing overseas.
“On top of PEZA’s brand of service, we are now thinking global and acting local with the Transformation Roadmap, which aims to ceaselessly promote and enhance the competitiveness of the Philippine market and contribute to the global supply chain,” said Plaza.
This has been seconded by the testimony from Samsung Electro-Mechanics Philippines Corporation (SEMPHIL), PEZA’s top Korean locator company. According to SEMPHIL Chief Finance Officer Dong-hoon Lee, “PEZA has been a close partner in our company’s journey.” He cited PEZA for streamlining rules and procedures, making it easy for investors to understand quickly and decisively. Specifically, he cited PEZA’s one-stop-shop operation. “We can say that investing in the Philippines under PEZA has a great advantage, with a professional, efficient, and knowledgeable team to support investors need,” he said.
Complementing various efforts implemented by PEZA and the national government to revive the domestic economy is the Philippine-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which should encourage
Korean companies to look into the Philippines for more investment opportunities especially in advanced and future-centric industries.
“Korea’s status as a high-technology, innovation-focused economy makes it an attractive development partner for the Philippines in various sectors, ensuring the Philippine development in these sectors is critical in helping the country fulfill its stated long-term commitments towards inclusive green growth and sustainable development,” noted Ambassador De Vega.
With this, the ambassador expressed hope for more Korean firms will take advantage of the FTA to boost trade between the two countries.
Ambassador Kim likewise added that “When the FTA takes effect, a framework for future-oriented collaboration will be created not only to promote trade and investment between our two countries but also to tackle the spread of infectious disease and climate change together.”