Serving as the center of commerce, trade, tourism, and finance in the Southern
Philippines, the city of Davao positions itself as one of the country’s leading investment hubs.
The city government’s investment primer, published online, presents the city as the best option to invest. “Locating in Davao City means accessing the 25-million market of Southern Mindanao. It also serves as a prime entry to over 500 million people in the ASEAN region and East Asian economies,” the primer wrote.
Several factors make Davao a viable place to invest. As the primer discussed, Davao City provides a favorable business climate “with vast land area for growth and development, abundant supply of raw materials, affordable power and utility rates and highly-skilled and job-ready workforce”.
The city also offers convenient accessibility, where people and goods move efficiently through arterial roads connecting major inter-provincial routes, an international airport with daily domestic flights plus regular flights to Singapore, and ports serving both inbound and outbound passenger traffic and domestic and foreign cargo.
Davao City also has a flourishing economy that “continues to indicate strong performances in trading and investments”. Recent figures shared in Davao City’s investment website indicated that the Davao Region, or Region 11, earned a GRDP (gross regional domestic product) Growth Rate of 9.4%. Value of investments grew by 6.3%, while the number of establishments increased by 6.1%.
Another noteworthy factor is the city’s government initiatives “to ensure easy business start-up and local legislations to support its bustling business environment.” The first local investment promotion unit in the country came from this city in the South, the Davao City Investment Promotion Center, which “provides convenient business start-up services and assistance”.
An area where peace and order are assured makes for a trustworthy investment center. This has been true in Davao with its low crime rate, which made the city one of the “Most Peaceful and Safest Cities in Southeast Asia.” The city also boasts of its Public Safety and Security Command Center, which houses the city’s traffic management, disaster risk reduction management, and safety and security systems.
The past year was a witness to the competence of Davao City as an investment hub. Aside from the aforementioned economic figures, the Philippine News Agency reported that Region 11 procured investment projects worth P14.8 billion as of January to November of 2018, the majority of which are allocated to the city (14.1 billion).
As of November last year, the Department of Trade and Industry in that region recorded 10,334 new business registrants. It also tallied a thriving infrastructure, with major projects last year consisting of water supply, sewage and water management worth P13,324.67 billion; real estate activities with P665.30 million; human health and social science with P376.5 million; agriculture, forestry and fishing with P325.97 million; administrative and support services with P121.25 million; and accommodation and food service activities with P14.8 million.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III recognized the large part infrastructure investments play in Davao City. “The forthcoming infrastructure investments will catalyze the region’s growth potential. It will make the city a center for manufacturing and agro-industry,” Mr. Dominguez said in a report of the Philippine Information Agency.
Among the infrastructure projects currently implemented in the city include the Davao International Airport Development Project (to be completed in 2022); the Davao City Coastal Road Project (to be completed in 2021); the Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network (to be completed next year); and the Davao Public Transport Modernization Project. Other projects, in line with the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program, include a major railway project and several road projects that are expected to be implemented in the near future.
As investments keep on rolling in Davao City, the city government has been working at reviewing its Investment Incentive Code and modifying it to offer new incentives. According to a BusinessWorld report last February, the city will release the new Code within the 1st half of this year as the draft undergoes a review for approval by the board of the Investment Promotions Center.
Aside from a streamlining of the 10 priority areas of investments, the new proposal enhances incentives for some of those areas, while others are either split or eliminated.
Davao City currently has 10 preferred investment areas, namely agribusiness; tourism and recreational facilities; property development; light manufacturing and assembly; information and communications technology; generation of new sources of energy; health and wellness, educational, and sports facilities; environmental protection or green projects; transportation and infrastructure; and public-private partnerships.
The current incentives offered to new, expanding, or diversifying enterprises under any of the preferred investment areas are a three-year business tax exemption and two-year real property tax exemption. A five-year tax holiday is also offered to investments in located in preferred districts of Calinan, Baguio, Marilog, and Paquibato. — Adrian Paul B. Conoza