AFAB Chair: SMEs may benefit from FAB’s growth, AEC

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MARIVELES, Bataan – The Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB) says that the increasing number of foreign locators in the freeport will benefit local small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as it expects to lure more global investors. Locators in the Freeport Area of Bataan (FAB) increased to 93 in 2014 from only 39 in 2010, when the Authority took over operations from the Bataan Export Processing Zone.

This year, the AFAB sees opportunities to attract more foreign locators in the establishment of the Association of Southeast Asia (ASEAN) Economic Community (AEC), which will transform ASEAN into a single, liberalized market.

Aside from bringing more investments and job opportunities, the Authority believes that the investors will also help SMEs in the province, downplaying concerns that the formation of the AEC and liberalization of the ASEAN market will only marginalize local enterprises.

“We see that SMEs would find niches in at least serving the bigger players to also experience the benefits of liberalization, which in the case of the FAB is to cater to the higher end products at the right price,” AFAB Chairman Deogracias G.P. Custodio said.

“For instance, as a result of the manufacturing activities inside the FAB, these are SMEs already looking at supplying zippers and other components for the high-end bag products,” he added. “Similarly, small and medium sized packaging companies are already in high demand, and although Chinese locators still source packaging from China, as demand grows, it would be more feasible for local suppliers to participate.”

Chairman Custodio stressed that the Authority wants to assure that the multiplier effects of investments in the freeport will not only benefit the human capital pool, but also other sectors and the whole local economy as a whole.

The FAB is the emerging fashion manufacturing hub of the Philippines, as it possesses a budding cluster of companies producing high-end brands of garments, apparel, shoes and accessories, like bags, jewelries, among others. Its vision is to be the Freeport of choice in the country by 2020, becoming a center of trade, innovation and sustainable development in Asia and promoting work-life balance, and global competitiveness.

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