THE PHILIPPINES can expect more than P500 billion worth of investment pledges in the next 18 months, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said on Monday.

“Total estimated value of investment leads is over P500 billion in the next 18 months. These are actual pledges already, and in various stages of preparation, site identification, company registration and IPA (investment promotion agency) application,” he told reporters in a Viber message.

“(These are in) varying stages. Some not yet registered, while some are,” he added.

Mr. Lopez said the investment leads are in sectors such as manufacturing, specifically personal protective equipment, international sports and apparel brands. He also mentioned electronics, printers, drones, e-vehicle ecosystems, battery technology and green metal processing.

Other investment leads include automotive parts, cement plants, integrated iron and steel, marine shipbuilding and ship repair, modern agribusiness projects, and integrated dairy operations. 

Mr. Lopez said there are also planned investments in satellite services such as billionaire Elon Musk-led SpaceX’s satellite internet, as well as data centers for hyperscalers, and renewable energy projects.

There are also investments related to information technology and business process management (IT-BPM), healthcare, animation, IT design and engineering, logistics, marine services, and transshipment operations.

Mr. Lopez said the investment leads and pledges are driven by recent economic reforms such as the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act and amendments to the Public Service Act. Retail Trade Liberalization Act and Foreign Investment Act. 

“The main drivers are robust post-pandemic economic recovery and growth, 110 million market size, and a young and competent workforce at 49 million,” he said. 

“(Other drivers include) market-oriented liberal policies to continue in the next administration, ease of doing business — facilitative IPAs and agencies in welcoming investments, free trade agreements of the Philippines, and the expectation of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) ratification,” he added. 

Meanwhile, the Board of Investments (BoI) said it approved a P756.24-million tapioca starch project being undertaken by South Korean firm Daesang Philippines Corp.

In a statement on Monday, the BoI said Daesang Philippines has been given the greenlight as a new producer of tapioca starch. The company will introduce its wastewater-to-biogas technology for the first time, which is expected to boost the circular economy and energy efficiency goals of the Philippines.

The project has an annual capacity of 33,000 tons of tapioca starch and 4,446 tons of tapioca residue as the by-product. It is estimated to begin commercial operations by January 2023 in Tagoloan town, Misamis Oriental and will generate 492 jobs.

According to the BoI, the project will augment the country’s cassava starch production by 9% to 403,000 metric tons (MT) from 370,000 MT.

It added that around 1 to 1.2 million MT of cassava roots are needed to meet the requirements for local cassava processing, citing estimates from the Philippine Cassava Industry Roadmap and the US Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service.

The BoI said the approval of the Daesang project is expected to boost the economic partnership between the Philippines and South Korea, as the two countries are expected to forge an FTA soon. Once signed, the FTA between the two countries is expected to generate more investment and employment opportunities. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave