CONSTRUCTION OF a planned industrial park catering to Chinese firms in New Clark City, Pampanga may start next year, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) said.
BCDA President and Chief Executive Officer Vivencio B. Dizon said a memorandum of agreement is expected to be signed with China in November, in time for the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“So the target is to sign the agreement in November. Once we sign that, the next step is to (create a) masterplan — that will maybe take another six months. So maybe shovels on the ground for that maybe sometime later next year,” Mr. Dizon told reporters on Thursday.
Last month, a Philippine government delegation visited China to firm up deals with prospective Chinese firms seeking to locate here.
Mr. Dizon said the Chinese were looking for a property as large as 1,000 hectares in the industrial zone, but noted the government can only accommodate anywhere between 300 to 500 hectares.
For the industrial zone, the BCDA chief said the government is eyeing “medium and light industries” such as car assembly plants, robotic assembly lines, semiconductor processing factories, laboratories, and training facilities.
The Philippines and China inked a memorandum of understanding in November last year where the latter committed to developing the industrial park and bring in Chinese locators.
The proposal was first floated late 2016 when President Rodrigo R. Duterte visited Beijing as ties between the two countries improved.
Aside from Pampanga, Mr. Dizon said the government will identify other new industrial parks in Luzon, which will encourage development outside Metro Manila.
“The idea is to identify several sites and it’s really not just New Clark City. It’s several sites across the country that China can finance, build, and develop industrial parks. With the development comes also them bringing in companies that will locate and build their factories or facilities in the industrial park,” said Mr. Dizon.
“It’s just that the first area that they felt was ready was New Clark City primarily because of the connectivity to the airport and the adjacent infrastructure,” he added.
Mr. Dizon also said the area would still be open to other nationalities looking to set up their industries there.
“Moving into Southeast Asia is good because the Philippines, number one, has a lot of free trade with a lot of people. So it’s where you are from, it’s the country of origin so that’s important. So this is a very good move for us.” — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan