Mindanao studied as third leg of shipbuilding industry triangle

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Hanjin Heavy Industry and Construction Co. Ltd.–Philippines (HHIC-Phil), based in Subic, launched in 2015 the first-ever Philippine-made Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) carrier. - PHILSTAR

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is studying Mindanao as a third location for shipbuilding, apart from Subic and Cebu, to be supported with a program of incentives under the second phase of its Manufacturing Resurgence Program (MRP).

DTI Assistant Secretary for industry development and trade policy Rafaelita M. Aldaba told reporters that the department is currently drafting an incentives program for the shipbuilding industry to attract investors and boost local manufacturing, akin to the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy Program for the auto industry.

“We are also preparing a support package which could build a maritime industrial heart in the country along with the promotion of the medium and small-sized vessels (which are roll-on, roll-off capable),” she said.

The MRP’s second phase — which runs from 2017 to 2021 — will focus on high-value added activities for industries such as iron and steel, chemicals, and fabricated metals.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez has said that with the MRP, the DTI believes manufacturing sector growth of 10% by 2018 is within reach.

“The shipbuilding industry road map is still in its planning stage, and it will be tailored depending on the industry’s needs,” Ms. Aldaba said.

Mr. Lopez said the Subic and Cebu hubs are being planned around partnerships with Japanese and South Korean firms.

“If there are more players [willing to participate in the MRP], then the better,” Mr. Lopez added.

Ms. Aldaba told BusinessWorld that the DTI also identified Mindanao as one of the regions which should play a role in the country’s shipbuilding plans.

On Oct. 30, DTI signed a letter of intent with Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. for the production of medium-sized marine vessels during President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s working visit to Japan.

That month, two Chinese firms involved in the iron and steel and shipbuilding industry expressed their intent to invest a total of $4.5 billion, pending a feasibility study, with Mr. Lopez indicating that Subic and Mindanao are two sites being considered. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato