05 October 2015

Philippines' Subic seen as investment-worthy for Taiwan

Taiwanese businessmen are coming back to Subic Bay again after a previous investment craze in the 1990s, as the Philippines is once more being seen as an ideal springboard for tapping into the promising Southeast Asian market.

With lingering economic challenges in Europe and only moderate growth in the United States and Japan, developing Asian countries have become a major driving force for the global economy in recent years.

In particular, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economies seem to have brighter prospects because they are expected to transform into a single market and production base in the near future.

Jeff Lin (林繼武), president of Subic Bay Development Management Center Inc. (SBDMC), a joint venture between the local government authority and Taiwan's United Development Corp. (世華開發), told CNA that the ASEAN market looks promising in terms of its manufacturing sector and trade, thanks to the region's economic ties with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Lin suggested that Taiwanese businessmen should take advantage of the Philippines as a springboard to the ASEAN market, which has a population of 640 million and a combined gross domestic product of US$2.4 trillion.

In the Subic Bay Special Economic Zone (SBSEZ), there are no taxes for investors except for a 5 percent tax on gross income, which can help save costs for investors, Lin said. If at least 40 percent of the investors' products are manufactured locally, their products will be duty-free when sold in the ASEAN market, he added.

Roberto Garcia, chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, said in a recent press conference that the Subic Bay Special Economic Zone is expanding its scale to neighboring areas because of an increasing number of investors who need more industrial land.

The first-phase complex of the Subic Bay Gateway Park, operated by SBDMC, has almost reached its full capacity with more than 170 companies currently operating there, of which roughly 30 percent are from Taiwan.

Taiwanese investment in Subic Bay is estimated at US$700 million. (CNA)

(By Emerson Lim and Jeffrey Wu)

SBDMC headquarters at the Subic Gateway Park