Cebu cites strong workforce in bid to attract investors

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 January, 1999, 12:00am

The Philippine island of Cebu offers Hong Kong companies a cheap, fully serviced manufacturing base as an alternative to the mainland, according to the Cebu Investment Promotions Centre (CIPC).

The island is seeking direct investors to establish manufacturing facilities that will produce exports.

CIPC managing director Joel Mari Yu said that, as an alternative to the mainland, the island offered a well-educated, productive workforce geared towards non-agricultural lines.

'You can get a college graduate for US$4 a day in Cebu, and for $1 a day in China you get a warm body,' he said.

Mr Yu said Cebu had already demonstrated capability with an excellent economic track record.

In 1997, exports were worth about $2 billion, accounting for 9 per cent of the Philippine total.

About 175 foreign direct investors operating in Cebu account for 78 per cent of its exports, with local exporters accounting for the rest.

Philippine vice-consul Mindy Cruz, referring to the Asian crisis, said: 'The Philippines has always been a late-comer to the party, and thankfully we arrived a little late for this one.' Ms Cruz said trade between the Philippines and Hong Kong amounted to $850 million and Hong Kong was its sixth-largest market and seventh-largest trading partner.

Pending legislation includes liberalisation of the retail industry to allow in foreign nationals, and amendments to the Condominium Law to allow foreign investors security of land tenure by expanding the concept of the condominium to include industrial estates.

Cebu, in the centre of the Philippines, boasts the biggest seaport outside Manila and an airport capable of handling all types of aircraft.