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Koreans top new Subic investors in first 8 months

By Bebot Sison Jr.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008 [ philstar.com ]

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — South Korean investors invested $198.8 million in the Freeport zone during the first eight months of this year, making them the biggest group of new investors for the past three years.

The South Korean firms, with a total of 46 projects approved by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) from January to August, committed more than 85 percent of the $232.6 million worth of new investments for the said period.

Filipino investors, meanwhile, came in second with 67 projects worth $10 million followed by Taiwanese firms with three projects worth $2.9 million, and Malaysians with another three proposals amounting to $2 million.

SBMA administrator Armand Arreza said the influx of Korean investors in the area came on the heels of the $1.6-billion investment infused by shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries Corp.-Philippines in 2006 and 2007.

“Most of these Korean companies are either suppliers or subcontractors of Hanjin, and some are property developers that also target the growing Korean community not only in Subic, but in other parts of the country,” Arreza said.

“Subic’s biggest new investor so far this year, the Subic Neocove Corp., is also a Korean company which intends to develop a resort to cater mostly to Korean expatriates,” he added.

“Of course, Subic has a good mix of nationalities, who have been part of the local business community since the freeport was established in 1992,” Arreza said.

Among the nationalities that put up new investments in the area this year are the Taiwanese, Japanese, American, Malaysian, Pakistan, Norwegian, Australian, British, Singaporean and Canadian.

SBMA records also indicate that in January to August this year, foreign direct investments (FDIs) composed the bulk of fresh capital infusions in Subic with a total of $208.8 million.

In the same period, the SBMA had approved a total of 130 projects, with projected employment totaling 5,177.

These increased the number of approved projects in the Subic Bay Freeport to 1,103, with committed investments totaling $5.73 billion.

Arreza said that for the past three years, Korean firms had topped other nationalities in terms of value of new investment projects.

In 2006, Korean companies put up a total of $1.36 billion, followed by Filipinos with $57 million, and Taiwanese with $9.8 million.

Last year, Koreans were again on top with $993 million worth of investments, followed by Filipinos with $355 million, and the Taiwanese with $222 million. — With Elisa Osorio

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