PEZA sees more Swiss investments

A total of 28 Swiss projects worth P19.618 billion employing 8,547 workers are being hosted by various economic zones in the country to date and is expected to further improve following strong interest from various companies during business meeting held by the Philippines with local companies as part of the President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s trip to Switzerland, the Philippine Ecozone Zone Authority (PEZA) said.

PEZA OIC Deputy Director General Tereso O. Panga, who is part of the President’s delegation to the World Economic Forum in Davos, said that

in separate B2B meetings, the PEZA and the Board of Investments (BOI) assisted the following companies with their specific operational concerns and investment entry/expansion requirements: Glencore (copper cathodes), Sateco (automotive sensors for controls and switches), OVD Kinegram (fintech and blockchain), Naturloop (design and production of coco fiber boards from waste coconut husks), and Impact Acoustic (design and production of acoustic lighting, ceiling and wall panel boards from recycled PET bottle fibers).

In the case of Naturloop and Impact Acoustic, they both employ pioneering technologies utilizing local materials that will benefit Filipino farmers and MSMEs engaged in collection and processing of waste materials. As an alternative to heavily imported wood and composite materials for various applications, their products can be utilized for instance for furnitures, wall and ceiling panels. The same can be used for our public school and housing projects as they are cheaper, termite-free and more durable. These ecozone activities will surely contribute to the DTI's science-technology-innovation driven industrialization strategy and PBBM administration's bid to push for more investments that support Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), inclusive growth and circular economy.

At present, Panga said there are 60 Swiss companies operating in the Philippines, 28 of which are registered with PEZA as export-oriented IT and manufacturing enterprises. The Swiss locators have by far generated P19.618 billion in cumulative investments and 8,547 direct jobs, said Panga.

“We hope to attract more foreign direct investments from Switzerland and EU especially with PBBM's ongoing participation in the World Economic Forum in Davos, together with his economic team DTI Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual and Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno with their collective mission to promote the Philippines as the smart investment destination in the region,” said Panga.

As side event of the trip, the Philippine delegation also held the Joint Economic Commission (JEC) Bilateral Talks and Investment Promotion from Jan. 11- 14, 2023 led by BOI Managing Head Ceferino S. Rodolfo. The Swiss side was represented by Ambassador Erwin Bollinger (Head of Bilateral Economic Relations, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, and Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research), and Minister Karin Buechel (Division FTAs, SECO, EAER).

Among the specific topics discussed in this 5th meeting of the JEC between the two countries included: Exchange of Views on Domestic Economic Situation; Philippines-EFTA Free Trade Agreement; Bilateral Relations and Economic Cooperation; and Statements of the Private Sector.

With the assistance of Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) Geneva Director CA Raymond Batac, both BOI and PEZA made their investment pitches in the JEC forum, which was attended by Swiss business chambers as well as prospective and existing Swiss investors in the Philippines from the sectors of fintech and blockchain, high-tech machinery (i.e., turbo-charging equipment used in power generation, transport and manufacturing), tobacco processing, and soil erosion technology.

For the JEC forum, PEZA presented updates on its recent MOU partnership with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). This MOU aims, among others, to contribute to the acceleration and achievement of the SDGs and the advancement of sustainability reporting in the Philippines especially within the ecosystem of PEZA. The partnership is delivered within the framework of the GRI's Sustainability Reporting for Responsible Business program, which is funded by the Switzerland State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

Voluntary compliance to the GRI and SDGs can be a source of competitiveness for the country in attracting more FDIs and in enhancing regulatory compliance.

Many advanced and developing economies subscribe to these principles to be able to measure the impact of FDIs on the host countries toward inclusive, resilient and sustainable development.

Some of the GRI-covered parameters include Economic/Governance (economic performance, business conduct, transparency, anti-corruption/anti-competitive behavior, innovation capabilities); Environmental (environmental footprint, waste management, biodiversity, environmental compliance); and Social (diversity/people development, occupational, health, and safety, human rights, employee safety, customer health and safety, supplier social assessment).

PEZA was the first to sign up for the SECO-GRI program in the Philippines. GRI will also bring on board the DTI-EMB and Philexport in the crafting of Sustainable Reporting guidelines for export-oriented industries.

In the past during the time of DG Lilia de Lima, PEZA likewise led the government's participation in the European-funded initiatives such as the GTZ Eco-Industrial Development project, ECCP Energy Efficiency and Savings Program, and ECCP Integrity Pledge. All these are aligned with PEZA's core objectives such as effective governance, ethical business practices, protection of the environment and workers' rights/welfare, and eco-industrial development strategy.