Aurora ecozone revs up pitch as key trade area
BALER, Aurora—Investors from South Korea are exploring business opportunities in this province, as the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (Apeco) positions itself as a strategic trading and ecotourism hub.
At least 20 business leaders from South Korea’s shipbuilding industry, key financial institutions and energy sector visited the province recently to explore business opportunities that could boost the local economy.
Possible joint ventures were discussed at the Aurora-Korea Development Cooperation forum held here from Aug. 22-24. Conceptualized by former Sen. Edgardo Angara, the forum gave foreign investors a glimpse of what Aurora has to offer as an investment destination.
“Apeco is the only ecozone that is located in the Pacific Ocean side and is the most strategic area in the Philippines,” Angara told the Koreans.
The province is on the east central side of Luzon and faces the Pacific Ocean.
Citing the ongoing territorial dispute between China and the Philippines, Angara said the Pacific side had now become an important economic gateway for investors.
“China has checkpoints in the South China Sea but the Pacific side is open sea,” he said.
He said a consortium of shipbuilding companies in South Korea is exploring locations for a multimillion-dollar shipyard in Aurora.
Israel Maducdoc, Apeco president, said the Casiguran Bay could be an ideal shipyard location.
He said the coastal town of Casiguran was ideal for shipbuilding because of its deep harbor.
Angara told the Inquirer that Apeco officials expected an initial investment of $300 million to be poured in on “setting up of equipment alone.”
The Korean shipbuilding project would be the biggest foreign investment in Aurora if it pushes through.
Apeco has 496 hectares in mainland Casiguran and an additional 12,000 ha in the San Ildefonso Peninsula, Maducdoc said.
The ecozone also offers investment opportunities in aquaculture production and ecotourism.
Up to $700 million would be spent for the Korean shipyard project that could employ at least 15,000 workers, Maducdoc said.
Chung In-mo, executive manager of KP Heavy Industries Co. in Seoul, said his company wants to turn the Philippines into a top shipyard location in Asia that builds small and medium-size vessels.
“We are planning to build vessels for catching tuna and for domestic transportation,” Chung said at the forum.
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