ASIDE from mapping out the potential ecozones in the country, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) also vowed to compete aggressively in terms of utilities and facilities in Southeast Asia to lure foreign investors to relocate or establish their businesses in the country.

Peza Director General Charito Plaza disclosed that the agency has signed agreements with the different government agencies to ensure that the country remains competitive in terms of the cost of doing business.

“There is tight competition in ecozones in Asia. Industries would prefer to pick countries where there are plenty of incentives,” said Plaza.

China and Vietnam are among the popular ecozone destinations in Asia because of their affordability and exciting perks. She said some countries agree to offer land free for lease up to five years. “We are trying to compete in terms of utilities, facilities and other incentives to attract them,” Plaza said.

She cited that Peza has reached out to government agencies like the Department of Energy for lower cost of power and to restore the special ecozone rate, and to the Department of Information and Communications Technology for reliable and affordable broadband connection. They will also be working with the local government units (LGUs) to come up with additional incentives for investors.

Some 45 potential ecozones were identified in the Visayas during the two-day Visayas Ecozone Summit held last week.

Of the 45, eight types of ecozones were identified in Cebu Province, including Talisay and Mandaue cities.

A Cebu industrial estate was proposed in Bogo, Carmen, Danao, Lapu-Lapu, Cordova, South Road Properties, Balamban, Toledo and Minglanilla.

Bantayan Island, Camotes Island, Badian and Oslob were identified as potential tourism ecozones, while Dalaguete-Argao and Tuburan-Tabuelan were picked as agri-tourism ecozones.

A retirement ecozone is also proposed in the areas of Dalaguete-Argao, Bantayan and Camotes islands. Three types of ecozones are also proposed in Talisay City— an institutional zone area, which covers education, sports and recreation, health, religious and public buildings, a commercial zone, which includes a hotel, mall and casino; and industrial zone.

Mandaue City, on the other hand, proposes to set up a medium industrial park development and recreation and tourism development.

Plaza said the agency will study the proposed sites presented by local officials of Visayas. This month, they aim to release the country’s ecozone map.

“We need to work double time as we are getting inquiries from foreign investors on where they can set up their industries. We are also undertaking land inventories, especially idle lots with the DENR across the country,” she said.