Davao ICon 2019 highlights special economic zones as catalyst for investments and growth

 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.