08 March 2010

No more need for visas for locators at freeports

Foreign locators at the Subic Bay Freeport and at the Clark Economic Zone can now enjoy a visa-free entry to the Philippines.

An agreement signed recently between the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and Clark Development Corporation (CDC) allows visa-free entry to foreign investors visiting the two free ports.

Under the agreement signed by BI Commissioner Marcelino Libanan with SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza and CDC president Benigno Ricafort, officers and personnel of a foreign locator in the two freeports may now enter and stay in the country without a visa for a period of 14 days.

The privilege will only be extended to those arriving through the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) or the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA).

Arreza said the agreement will help attract more foreign investors to do business in Subic and Clark as well as send a signal to other foreign investors that the government is serious in courting more foreign investments that will create more jobs and improve the economy.

“More than the convenience that the agreement will provide foreign locators in Subic and Clark, the visa-free entry will encourage more investments from Taiwan – which is now one of the biggest in Subic – and invite other foreign investments to do business in the freeport zones,” Arreza said.

Libanan said the visa-free entry privilege for foreign locators in Subic and Clark is part of the BI’s ongoing thrust to attract more tourists and investors to the Philippines, aside from merely guarding against the entry of terrorists, transnational criminals and other undesirable aliens.

Aside from tightening the BI’s guard against the entry of undesirable aliens, Libanan introduced reforms, like cutting red tape and providing visa incentives to foreign investors to encourage them to visit and invest in the country.

The agreement provides that the foreign locator will vouch for their officers and personnel coming here and will notify the SBMA chairman or CDC president who will approve the grant of the visa-free entry privilege. (Jun Ramirez, Manila Bulletin)