Exports from the country’s economic zones grew 15.6 percent in the first quarter to $12.91 billion from $14.92 billion in the same period last year as more companies resumed operations despite the lingering impact of the pandemic, data from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority show.
PEZA said in a report Monday employment in economic zones also increased 2.9 percent to 1.58 million workers as of end-March from 1.53 million workers a year ago.
PEZA said that based on the economic zones’ monthly performance report, locators and registered companies started coming back, with at least 116 more companies resuming operations while others brought fresh investments.
It said operating companies inside the economic zones reached 3,596 in the first three months of 2021, up 3.2 percent from 3,480 companies in the first quarter of 2020.
PEZA said it was still finalizing the value of new investments in the first quarter. It said that in January, it approved 24 projects with investments of P11.3 billion that are expected to generate 5,601 jobs.
“This is a 139-percent increase from the P4.72-billion investments PEZA generated last year in January 2020,” PEZA director-general Charito Plaza said.
She said the continued investments showcased that the Philippines is indeed an investment haven and PEZA’s brand of excellence is chosen by many investors.
The PEZA board approved in December 2020 the adoption of the new 10-point programs and special projects called “PEZA’s Transformational Roadmap” for the next 25 years.
Plaza described roadmap as “a blueprint that is a legacy and continued guideline to unlock the potentials of Philippine industries, of enhancing human capital and natural resources of our country towards full, sustainable, and green industrialization.”
PEZA will collaborate with other government bodies to address efficiency factors that expanding multinational companies are considering in coming up with investment decisions, she said.
She said this was in line with Administrative Order No. 18 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte which mandated government agencies to develop and support ecozone creations in the countryside.
The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that merchandise exports jumped 31.6 percent in March, led by strong demand for electronics amid the global economic recovery arising from the COVID-19 vaccinations.
The March figures put the country’s export growth in the first quarter in the positive territory at 7.6 percent.
ING Bank Manila senior economist Nicholas Mapa said the base effect-induced expansion for both exports and imports were expected to continue in the coming months with the Philippine economy relatively more open in 2021 compared to last year.
He said demand for electronics components given the global chip shortage might also help lift demand for the export sector.