Special economic zones took the spotlight on the first day of the Davao Investment Conference (ICon), which highlighted its importance as an investment magnet that promotes growth in the region.
Mr. Ricardo F. Lagdameo, First Vice President of Damosa Land, Inc., delivered a presentation to an audience of local and foreign investors, including various chambers of commerce, investment and tourism groups as the 2-day biennial business meet showcases investment opportunities in tourism, infrastructure and real estate, information and communication technology, and halal trade and tourism.
Lagdameo particularly focused on the viability of agro-industrial economic zones with Mindanao taking center stage in the presentation.
“It’s something that we feel strongly about as there is so much growth in this industry,” expressed Lagdameo.
Mindanao, being the food basket of the Philippines, largely produces 40% of the country’s food needs and more than 30% of the national food trade. This is the seat of major export products such as banana, coconut, rubber, gold and silver.
“Mindanao is number 1 in a lot of agriculture products such as bananas, coconut, cacao and rubber in the entire Philippines. This means that we have a lot of potential for the success of this industry, especially that it creates a lot of diverse job opportunities,” said Lagdameo.
However, Lagdameo emphasized that agro-industrial businesses are not necessarily about food or food-processing operations as he cited locators in the Anflo Industrial Estate, which he is heading as First Vice President, are indirectly related to agriculture.
Among the locators of AIE are producers of agro-industrial products such as pallets and plastic packaging products. Packwell, one of the most recent companies to sign-off a deal to locate a manufacturing plant in AIE, is one of Japan’s leading producers of high quality paper packaging products for products such as Godiva, a renowned chocolatier in the world. The most recent addition to AIE’s locators is the Chinese company Davao Zhenzhi Plastics Corp. which produces plastic packaging products for fresh produce.
Lagdameo notes that only a very small fraction of the total approved ecozones in the Philippines fall under agro-industrial. IT Parks rank first at 65%, followed by ecozones dedicated for manufacturing operations at 22%.
“One-fourth of our population are farmers so we have to have infrastructures that give opportunities for farmers to market their produce,” Lagdameo said.
He added that despite being a fledgling industry, agro-industrial ecozones are viable and possible as proven by AIE.