The Philippines Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) said investment in its special economic zones was worth P70 billion ($1.66 billion) as of this year. That’s a 38% growth on the previous year, and PEZA has a target of a further 10% growth this year on the back of growing confidence.

PEZA manages over 240 special economic zones across the Philippines, from areas the size of former US military bases to single buildings. PEZA-accredited zones have access to favorable investment conditions like tax holidays, relaxation of planning and other regulations, and easy access to trained staff and business services. The zones are aimed at export industries, usually in manufacturing or technology.

Initially popular in China and India, other countries have seen the benefits and zones with special economic conditions now operate in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. Trade bodies like JETRO in Japan routinely conduct surveys into special zones in different countries and supply the information to potential investors.

PEZA director-general Lilia De Lima said the Philippines had a healthy supply of qualified engineers and remained cost-competitive compared to other free zones in Asia. The zones had created 790,831 new Filipino jobs, up 17.7% on last year’s figures.

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