916,315 Jobs for Palm Oil Projects, PEZA Investment Growth 2012

The Bureau of Investments (BOI) on Monday approved a 737 Million palm oil project of Philippine-registered Zanorte Palm Rubber Plantation.

"The Zanorte project will help expand the country's agro-industries and create much-needed employment opportunities in rural areas. It will also help boost the palm oil industry which is among the sectors we have identified for industry development," BOI Managing Head Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. said in a statement.

Sirawai and Sibuco in Zamboanga del Norte–one of the 30 poorest provinces in the country–will host the project.

It will provide about 1,055 jobs, and is expected to create 54-58 percent  net value added to Zamboanga del Norte's economy.

The palm oil facility has a rated output of 9,900 metric tons (MT) of palm oil, and 2,338 MT of dried palm kernel.

The by-products of Zanorte Plantation will be sold to food giants like Universal Robina Corp., RFM Corp., Nestle Philippines, and Mina Oil Mill Corp., as well as exporters and manufacturers of soap and other industrial products.

Government data show the Philippine yearly production of palm oil is 54,333 MT and 6.54 MT of palm kernel.

Each palm fruit is capable of producing 90 percent palm oil and 10 percent  palm kernel oil. Industry data show that palm oil currently accounts for a 21-percent share of the world edible oil market.

Earlier this year, Zanorte registered a rubber plantation project with the BOI.

The project aims to integrating dried rubber production, which will be sold to tire makers Dunlop, Bridgestone, and Yokohama.

"While agriculture was hard hit by El Niño, La Niña, and other natural calamities, the sustained investor interest in agribusiness will re-energize and help us further grow this sector," Cristobal claimed.

BOI registered 479.682 million of agricultural investment in the first quarter of the year, up 52.77 percent from P313.988 million a year earlier.

PEZA sets 12% growth in ecozone investments, exports, jobs for 2012

Having generated 465 billion in registered investments in the country's 258 economic zones since President Benigno Aquino III took office, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) aims to post 12 percent increases in investments, exports and employment this year.

Last year, PEZA investments totaled 288 billion—a 41 percent increase from 204 billion in 2010.

"These [figures] show the continued enthusiasm of investors who are looking at the Philippines," PEZA director general Lilia de Lima said during the annual Investors' Night Thursday evening in Pasay City, where President Aquino was guest of honor.

The President highlighted the significance of the investment figures.

 "I am told that since we assumed office, PEZA has generated a total of—and this is part of the statistics I want to repeat 465 billion pesos in investments. Allow me to emphasize the magnitude of this figure. I'll have to repeat it a third time: 465 billion pesos. In 17 years of PEZA, this represents 23 percent of all investments generated by the authority. And, may I say again, this has happened in a span of less than two years," the President said.

 Among the locator firms feted during Investors' Night were Texas Instruments Philippines and Amkor Technology Philippines. These firms were given the Billionaires Award for pouring at least P3 billion worth of investments in the past three straight years.

 Europe, a new market

 In January and February, PEZA has brought investors that committed to 90 projects costing P16.22 billion.

 "Even companies in the European countries that did not show previous interest in the Philippines are now considering investing in the country," de Lima added.

 There are 2,709 firms in the ecozones—19 percent of which, or 514 firms, came during the Aquino administration.

 These firms directly employ 915,260 employees, according to de Lima.

President Aquino said the growing PEZA investments "is an indication of the investors' newfound confidence in the Philippines. We have garnered distinction after distinction from various renowned institutions."

 "The World Economic Forum, for example, bumped us ten places higher in their latest competitiveness ranking. The Japan External Trade Organization, in their survey of companies in Asia and Oceania, also named us as one of the best place to do business in Asia, whether in manufacturing or in service," Aquino noted.

The President also shared with PEZA investors a bit of realization he got from attending the World Electronics Forum in Cebu City last week.

"Businesses have realized the creativity and skill of the workforce and are moving them up the value chain; from production-line assemblies, they are tapping Filipinos for chip design and engineering. This is the result of companies nurturing their work force, and in turn, that work force is eager to learn and to propel its company towards even greater heights," Aquino shared.

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