The Office of the President proclaimed 16 new economic zones with combined investments of P18 billion, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority said over the weekend.
Trade Secretary and PEZA chairman Alfredo Pascual earlier endorsed for approval by the President the new set of ecozones.
Acting PEZA director-general Theo Panga said the new projects approved by the President were expected to generate fresh investments, jobs, exports, countryside development, technology transfer, increased revenues for local and national governments and other economic opportunities for the country.
The PEZA board in 2022 approved 29 new ecozones and ecozone expansion projects totaling P96.2 billion in fresh investments. The new approvals are in various stages of development in compliance with presidential proclamation requirements.
PEZA reported that 11 of the proclaimed economic zone developments were approved in the first six months of the Marcos administration.
The approved ecozones, mostly industrial estates and IT parks outside Metro Manila, boosted regional dispersal of ecozones and industries, spurred development of rural areas and stimulated growth in the host LGUs, Panga said.
Project approvals in 2022 included 13 IT parks and centers, 12 manufacturing enterprises, two tourism ecozones, and one agro-industrial project. The biggest ecozone project approved last year was the P81.6-billion mixed-used special economic zone which is set to rise in Pangasinan in the next few years.
PEZA has established 421 ecozones strategically placed all over the country since 1995, including 300 IT parks and centers, 78 manufacturing ecozones, 23 agro-industrial ecozones, 17 tourism ecozones and three medical tourism ecozones. Except for the four public ecozones, the rest are mostly owned, developed and managed by the private sector.
PEZA said the world-class and environment-friendly ecozones are home to 4,346 locators, where majority are export-oriented enterprises.
Panga said the Philippines was the second economy in Asia, next to Taiwan, that experimented with the export-processing zones in the 1960s.
The ecozones have proliferated in the ASEAN region over the past five decades and have become a platform for attracting foreign direct investments, he said.
The Philippines ranked 5th after Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia in terms of the total number of designated special economic zones and economic corridors in ASEAN in 2020.