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Investors eye South Cotabato as premier investment destination in Mindanao

South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr.

KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato (PIA) -- Investors are eyeing South Cotabato as the premier investment destination in Mindanao, just as officials here are encouraging them to tap into the province’s economic potential by establishing their businesses in the province.

“This time, we can proudly boast to all investors—this is the right time to invest in South Cotabato," Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. told over 300 local and foreign businesspersons attending the National Business Summit at the Farm@Carpenter Hill in Koronadal City on July 15.

A major event of the 24th Tnalak Festival, the business summit, which was backed by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), gathered potential investors from neighboring provinces and other parts of the country as well as foreign companies whose representatives visited South Cotabato earlier this year with the prospect of setting up shop in the said place. 

"Before we invited investors to come to South Cotabato, we made sure that we have enough raw materials for investments, we have enough and quality manpower, and excellent roads for connectivity," Gov. Tamayo said.

During the summit, the provincial government presented priority projects where investors could pour in capital.

During the Business Summit, Mariz Wang, owner of Blessed Harvest Marketing, which has been already invested in South Cotabato, translates for a Chinese businessman in a meeting with South Cotabato 1 Electric Cooperative general manager Engr. Raffee Edsel Epistola (right) and SCEOPC chief Tyron John Villanueva. The Chinese businessman considers South Cotabato as investment destination for a solar farm.

Investment Opportunities

In agriculture and agribusiness, companies may venture into commercial production and processing of high-value crops, fisheries, and livestock products; build feed and corn mills; produce organic fertilizer inputs; or establish organic farms in South Cotabato, according to the South Cotabato Economic and Investment Promotion Center (SCEIPC).

Data from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist show that in 2022, South Cotabato produced 1.23 million metric tons (MT) of pineapple and 198,000 MT of papaya, 67,834 MT of bananas, 46,028 MT of coconuts, 16,304 MT of oil palm, 23,735 MT of soursop (Guyabano), and 6,934 MT of durian. Other fruit crops produced here include guava, jackfruit, watermelon, and mangosteen.

“Because agriculture is our primary source of raw materials, we made sure that we implement programs that will double or triple the production of our farmers. We are also expanding our production areas to include idle lands,” Gov. Tamayo said.

Businesses, he added, can also take advantage of a 25-hectare regional agro-industrial economic zone the provincial government plans to establish in Tupi town in the near future, where about two-thirds of the raw products of Soccsksargen Region can be processed for added value before these are transported via seaport and airport in General Santos City.

Investors may also access the province’s booming tourism industry, which is prominent for its culture, adventure sports, ecotourism, and agri-based sites.

“The industry potential of the province on the tourism, culture and arts sector includes development of farm tourism and linking this to agricultural production; establishment of hotels and functions related to meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism; tourism travels and tours development and packages for tourism circuits; events management and organizing of social and cultural activities; and infrastructure support for museums and cultural parks,” Argie Ryan Asaria, senior tourism officer, elaborated.

 In 2022, tourist arrivals in the province reached 2,033,197, which was 53.78% higher year-on-year.

In manufacturing, South Cotabato welcomes financiers for agricultural machinery fabrication, testing and quality control laboratories, training centers, metal casting and metal working facilities, furniture and woodworking (including bamboo) facilities, and ceramics production and jewelry making facilities.

Gov. Tamayo added that as South Cotabato establishes its own Information Technology (IT) Zone in Tupi town, there will also be openings for investors in the IT industry, particularly in creative industries and knowledge-based services in South Cotabato.

“Our proposal for the IT Zone has been green lighted by the PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) and pending submission of some requirements to Malacañang, it should be ready for signature by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. very soon,” the local chief executive said.

Moreover, South Cotabato welcomes business ventures in the green economy, such as waste-to-energy projects, electronic waste recycling facilities, and the treatment, storage, and disposal of special wastes such as used tires, batteries, and oil, among others.

Provincial environment management officer Seigfred Flaviano said South Cotabato generates 321.9 tons of waste daily, which, he emphasized, has potential for gains as "a ton of waste is equivalent to 0.5 megawatts of energy."

He also noted that of the total waste collected each day, 6 tons consist of recyclable materials for recovery as raw materials, and 5.8 tons are special wastes for treatment, storage, and disposal.

“For now, no such industries exist in Region 12,” Flaviano said.

He informed the participants that South Cotabato has succeeded in a similar green project.

In November 2016, the provincial government started operation of a healthcare waste treatment facility in Barangay Tinongcop, Tantangan, for treatment, storage, and disposal of M501 or hospital or infectious wastes, the only local government-managed TSD facility in the entire Philippines.

Flaviano reported that with only P600,000 in annual maintenance and other operating expenses, it has earned the provincial government P6 to P8 million per year and recovered investment in only 3 years.

Alongside its visitor-drawing cultural destinations in Lake Sebu and Tboli municipalities, South Cotabato is also becoming popular among tourists for its mountain resorts in Tupi and other parts of the province.

 Personalized treatment and incentives

Companies that establish projects in the province will be provided preferential treatment and fiscal incentives.

SCEIPC chief Tyron John Villanueva explained that each investor will be assigned a SCEIPC officer to guide them through the registration procedure, from the preparation and submission of required documents until a Certificate of Registration is issued.

Villanueva noted that "enterprises registered under the province’s Investment Code are exempt from payment of basic real property to the full amount of the share of the province on the basis of the amount of their investments."

Under the code, new and expanding enterprises can enjoy a two-year tax holiday for capitalizations of P2 million to P10 million and up to six years for investments over P100 million.

Meanwhile, new and expanding high-priority projects such as those in renewable energy, clean water, and green energy take 4 years of tax exemption for investments of P10 million to P25 million and as much as 10 years for projects valued over P500 million.

South Cotabato is located in the southern part of Mindanao. It has a total area of 4,152 square kilometers and a population of 975,476 as of 2020.

Major existing investments here include Dole Philippines, Inc., Sumifro Philippines Corp., and Lapanday Foods Corp.

Just recently, the provincial government granted a 9-year business permit to Ecoenergy Corporation, with a capitalization of P2 billion.

South Cotabato is recognized as one of the leading provinces in the country on economic dynamism, government efficiency, infrastructure resiliency, and innovation, ranking 6th Most Competitive Province in the Philippines in 2021 and 9th in 2022 in the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index spearheaded by the Department of Trade and Industry. (DED – PIA Region 12)

About the Author

Catherine Apelacio

Information Officer III

Region 12

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