By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2017 Journal GlobaLinks)
CHICAGO (JGL) — Delegates from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) had wrapped up their visit in the International Finance Corporation in Washington, D.C. on March 28 to discuss strategies to implement “best practices” in attracting and retaining investments, including targeted investment promotion strategies; approaches to investment promotion and policy; diversification of zones ownership and economic activities; fiscal and non-fiscal incentives; investor aftercare programs; business one-stop shop action centers; and investor linkages initiatives in their spheres of influence.
In a roundtable discussion chaired by Mr. Peter Kusek, Senior Investment Policy Officer at the World Bank Group Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, the officials briefed investment specialists and experts on the various programs and policies of PEZA and ARMM-REZA.
The visiting delegation from PEZA and ARMM participated in a Roundtable Discussion on special economic zones as part of an investment mission that is aimed at creating awareness among various sectors in the US capital about PEZA and the ARMM, in line with the Philippine Government’s investment priorities, including in infrastructure, manufacturing resurgence and the development of Mindanao.
The Delegation was led by PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza, and composed of ARMM-Regional Economic Zone Authority (ARMM-REZA) Executive Director Aleem Siddiqui Guiapal, ARMM Agrarian Reform Secretary Amihilda J. Sangcopan, ARMM Treasurer Kanggo Umal, PEZA Deputy Director General Tereso O. Panga, Francoise Ferdinand Plaza, and Danilo Mangaya.
There was consensus among the international financial experts present that the Philippines had an impressive track record in investment promotion and the operation of special economic zones, and they encouraged the delegation to share Philippine best practices more broadly. They mentioned that the Philippine regulations on the one-stop shop is reference material for many World Bank practitioners.
During the discussion with the roundtable participants, the delegation and the technical experts exchanged views on the future opportunities and challenges for countries that have embraced the concept of special economic zones. Director General Plaza emphasized that while PEZA continues to expand existing zones and aims to build an economic zone in every province and city of the Philippines, they are also looking towards the future by going into niche areas such as eco-tourism facilities, halal hubs, logistics hubs, and defense industrial complexes.
The roundtable participants also discussed strategic issues such as how to deal with zones that are nearing full occupancy and how to ensure that they continue to have a catalytic effect on the economy. On the issue of climate change and sustainable development, the participants looked into the concept of eco-industrial parks, which has exploded in number in the last ten years; as well as Climate Innovation Centers. Other experts provided advice on best practices with respect to investment policy and regulations, as well as cutting edge investment promotion concepts.
PEZA Director General Plaza and ARMM-REZA Executive Director Guiapal expressed satisfaction over the substance and depth of the roundtable discussions.