THE government said a Dutch shipbuilding company is taking an interest in investing in the Philippines, and among the options it is looking into is working with the Philippine Navy and taking over the facility of Hanjin Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines, Inc. (HHIC-Philippines) in Subic, Zambales.
In a statement released on Friday, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the Damen Shipyards Group met with Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez on March 4 to discuss opportunities for investment in the country.
“Shipbuilding is one of our priority industries not just in Subic, but also in many locations in our archipelagic country. We have the required manpower and skill set for new shipbuilders. As a market ourselves, the country is also in need of smaller vessels like the roll-on-roll-Off (RORO) ships,” Mr. Lopez was quoted as saying.
The DTI said Damen may possibly partner with the Philippine Navy to provide defense vessels, but Mr. Lopez also presented the Hanjin facility as another option.
It noted that unlike HHIC-Philippines which builds large container ships, Damen is focused on smaller vessels such as yachts, cruise ships, navy vessels, and tugboats. The company’s website lists a wide variety of vessel types that it handles including ferries, dredging equipment, pontoons and barges, fishing vessels, offshore vessels, and highspeed craft, naval and patrol vessels, interceptors and rigid hull inflatable boats, modular constructions like modular jetties and multi cats, aquaculture support vessels, research vessels, yachts, and shipping vessels including container vessels and oil tankers.
“The company’s chairman Kommer Damen said this puts them in a good position because they’re not affected by the overcapacity in the cargo ship market that caused Hanjin to scale down their operations,” the DTI said in the release.
The agency said the Damen technical team already checked the Hanjin facility and is reviewing how it will fit in their current plans.
HHIC-Philippines filed for corporate rehabilitation in January for debts from its operations of its Hanjin facility in Subic. Should Damen consider investing in Hanjin, this would scale up their presence in the Philippines, which is currently limited to its partnership with local firm Propmech Global Technologies and a contract with Philippine Airlines.
Aside from the Dutch company, the Board of Investments (BoI) also said a shipbuilding firm from Australia and one from Mindanao were presented with similar opportunities as Damen was, and are investing in the Visayas and in Mindanao respectively.
“(Mr.) Damen said this is a good scenario to have with more shipbuilders in an area due to greater industry support and better education for employees,” the DTI said. — Denise A. Valdez