THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has urged Malaysian investors to explore opportunities in the country’s growing halal industry.

PEZA Director General Charito Plaza said in a statement on Tuesday that the Malaysian investors can locate and expand their operations in the halal hubs and production economic zones in the countryside.

She explained that Republic Act (RA) 10817 or Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Act of 2016 and Republic Act 11439 (RA) the Islamic Banking Act are supporting the country to become a “significant player in the global halal industry.”

“In continuous support to our Transformation Road Map which also heeds to the call of the national government under Administrative Order  (AO) No. 18, we have identified 18 locations in Mindanao such as Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur and del Norte, Davao City, Sulu, Sultan Kudarat, Surigao del Sur, Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Sur and del Norte, Davao del Norte, North Cotabato, Zamboanga del Sur and del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Maguindanao, areas rich in agriculture, aquaculture, and agro-forestry among others,” Plaza added.

Released in June 2019, AO 18 bans new ecozone developments in Metro Manila in a bid to
spur economic activities in the countryside.

The PEZA chief—during a recent meeting with Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia H.E. Charles C. Jose, Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines H.E. Norman Bin Muhamad, and representatives from PEZA-registered Malaysian enterprises—noted there are 56 Malaysian locators in the ecozones.

They have contributed P17.571-billion worth of investments and currently employing nearly 11,000 workers. These enterprises contribute $52.599 million in
exports.

“Given the Malaysians’ contribution in our economy, which is vital especially during this time, we must continue to attract more Malaysian investors to come and invest in the Philippines and widen our reach for sectors unique only in Malaysia,” Plaza stressed.

Plaza said that Malaysian investors can benefit from the country’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus status given by the European Union. This, as the Philippines seeks to renew trade perks with the United States as well.

“Our country is also waiting for implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership [RCEP] which is seen to enhance our businesses’ participation in the global value chains given that this agreement will promote partnerships between the ASEAN nations, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea,” she said.

For his part, Jose said that ecozones are crucial in increasing the export revenues and boosting employment.

“Benefitting from decades of investments and rising investor appetite for manufacturing projects, economic zones in the Philippines have become an important export promotion tool and investment destination,” he said.

The regulator has 415 economic zones hosting 4,665 locator companies that employ 1.6 million workers.

In the first half, PEZA approved 119 projects amounting to P32.057 billion, which is 8.52 percent more than P29.541 billion in the same period last year. Exports, meanwhile, amounted to $30.177 billion in January to June.





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