By PHILIPPINE EMBASSY
WASHINGTON, D.C.— An investment mission led by Director General Charito B. Plaza, Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), and Executive Director Aleem Siddiqui Guiapal, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao-Regional Economic Zone Authority (ARMM-REZA), highlighted the current transformation at PEZA and the investment opportunities in Mindanao at a roundtable discussion with the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) on 28 March 2017 in Washington, DC.
“We want to build on the past success of PEZA by revolutionizing the way we do business. We continue to avoid red tape, while providing investors the red carpet. However, we are also ensuring that PEZA is responding to the needs of the times, and to the priorities of the Duterte Administration,” Director General Plaza told a group of corporate executives from US companies that included Citi, Cargill, the Albright Stonebridge Group, DLA Piper, Hills & Company, Lockheed Martin, and Medtronic.
PEZA & ARMM:
PEZA and ARMM delegation exchange views with the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) members on matters of mutual interest at a roundtable discussion held in Washington, DC on 28 March 2017. (Philippine Embassy)
In her presentation, Director General Plaza noted that PEZA is diversifying both the types of facilities it operates by encouraging more public and local government-owned economic zones, and the type of economic activities its facilities cater to by moving beyond traditional manufacturing to areas like agro-processing, tourism and renewal energy. She mentioned that PEZA has likewise begun venturing into creating defense-industrial complexes, with a view to establishing five of such facilities in strategic regions of the country. She also told the group that they have started working closely with ARMM in prioritizing Mindanao economic zones.
On the part of ARMM-REZA, Executive Director Guiapal provided a comprehensive briefing on the opportunities and investment potentials in Mindanao, particularly in the ARMM. Aside from describing the ongoing efforts to develop five key and strategic economic zones in the ARMM, Mr. Guiapal also spoke broadly about the Mindanao development corridors that include projects such as the Zamboanga Special Ecozone, Mindanao Railway System, and the Tagum Aerotropolis. He also noted the geographical proximity of Mindanano to other ASEAN countries, which provides opportunities for trade and investment expansion.
“Out of the total economic activity of the ARMM, only some 0.7% is attributable to trade. We want to change that to the benefit of Mindanao, in general, and the people of ARMM, in particular,” said Executive Director Guiapal. He also referred to the ongoing collaboration among PEZA, ARMM and the Mindanao Development Authority.
The roundtable discussion after the presentations was chaired by Elizabeth Dugan, USABC Vice President for Operations. Director General Plaza and Executive Director Guiapa are also joined by ARMM Agrarian Reform Secretary Amihilda J. Sangcopan, ARMM Treasurer Kanggo Umal, PEZA Deputy Director General Tereso O. Panga, Francoise Ferdinand Plaza, and Danilo Mangaya.
“The Embassy’s economic team attaches great importance to Mindanao in its program of work. We want to raise awareness and consciousness of the potentials for trade and investment among our friends in the US business community. We hope that engagements such as the one with the USABC will underpin continued business and investor confidence in one of Asia’s most dynamic economies, including in Mindanao,” said Minister Patrick A. Chuasoto, Charge d’Affaires ad interim of the Philippine Embassy. (PM)