CDC executive: Pandemic hasn’t thwarted Clark investments

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INVESTMENT in the Clark Free Zone is expected to increase further this year with the opening of the new passenger terminal at Clark International Airport and the ramp-up of a new convention center.

During a recent press conference, Dennis C. Legaspi, chief of staff to the president of Clark Development Corp. (CDC) and vice president for engineering, also pointed out that “despite the pandemic, investments have increased at Clark”.

CDC data showed an 8.3% increase in total investments to some 265.3 billion pesos in 2021, even as the number of locators slipped slightly to 1,153. Investments in the freeport the year last were also 12.7% higher than the 235.6 billion pesos recorded before the pandemic, in 2019.

Among last year’s investments by locators, developers accounted for the largest chunk at 97.24 billion pesos, followed by industrial locators at 65.18 billion pesos, tourism at 48.32 billion pesos, related to aviation at 17.08 billion pesos and services at 16.65 billion pesos.

The other locators with the most investments last year were institutional at 6.25 billion pesos, public services at 5.96 billion pesos, information and communication technology (ICT) at 4.9 billion pesos, commercial at 2.5 billion pesos and agro-industrial at P3. 8000000.

Low investments but better exporters

Legaspi said exports from the freeport last year reached some $7.2 billion (374.4 billion pesos), with semiconductors still topping the list of exports. CDC data showed the top 10 exporters were led by SFA Semicon Philippines Corp. ($4.16 billion) and Texas Instruments (1.8 billion pesos). The others were Yokohama Tire Philippines, Nanox Philippines Inc., Amertron Inc., L&T International Group Philippines, Outback Five Starback Philippines, SMK Electronics (Phils.) Corp., BW Manufacturing Corp. and Viskase Asia Pacific Corp.

There were 121,341 workers employed in the Freeport last year, of which 49% worked in the ICT/services/developer sector and 35% in the industrial/manufacturing sector.

While the tourism sector has among the lowest investment and lowest employment of any locator, it attracted 1.35 million arrivals in 2021. The Freeport is also proving to be a major destination for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) hosted 52 events last year, with attendees reaching 17,874.

Legaspi said at the recent launch of the SMX Convention Center in Clark, “It really is a welcome addition to what we have here in Clark. We can’t claim to be the destination of choice if we don’t have a convention center big enough to host local and international events, including MICE. (See “Social events driving SM Group’s MICE business”, in BusinessMirror, May 24, 2022.)

New carriers land at CRK

Clark International Airport (CRK) is expected to help boost arrivals. According to Terri Flores, Communications Manager of Luzon International Premiere Airport Development Corp. (Lipad), “All the old airlines are coming back, along with new carriers.”

By July 16, she said, a new carrier, South Korean low-cost Fly Gangwon, will offer four times a week flights between Clark and Yangyang. It will use a B737-800, which carries 186 passengers.

Before the pandemic, in 2019, 17 airlines served 19 domestic destinations and 14 international destinations via CRK, with arrivals that year reaching 4 million. The airport has just opened its new passenger terminal to the public, which can accommodate up to 8 million passengers a year.

Lipad is the consortium consisting of Filinvest Development Corp., JG Summit Holdings Inc., Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions Inc. and Changi Airports Philippines Pte. Ltd., which will operate and maintain CRK for 25 years.

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