DTI seeks Dutch shipbuilding firm investment
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is enticing Dutch shipbuilding firm Damen Group to invest in the Philippines' shipbuilding industry after the latter expressed interest to bail out South Korean Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Corporation.
In a statement on Friday, March 8, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said he presented Hanjin's facility and other investment options in a meeting with Damen officials earlier this week.
“Shipbuilding is one of our priority industries not just in Subic, but also in many locations in our archipelagic country," Lopez said as quoted in the statement. "We have the required manpower and skillset for new shipbuilders. As a market ourselves, the country is also in need of smaller vessels like the Roll-On-Roll-Off ships."
According to DTI, Damen manufactures small vessels such as tug boats, yachts, cruise and navy ships.
Damen Group chairman Kommer Damen said in the meeting that this puts them in an advantage as this would mean no overcapacity in the cargo ship market, the statement said.
Damen already has presence in the Philippines through its partnership with local firm Propmech Global Technologies and flagship carrier Philippine Airlines.
Hanjin has been trying to fight off its impending bankruptcy for years.
While the central bank has downplayed the bankruptcy, its recovery isn't certain. Aside from financial woes, the South Korean giant is also facing labor issues, especially in the aftermath of its sacking of shipyard workers.
Board of Investments Governor Napoleon Concepcion said that aside from Damen, Australian and Norway shipbuilding firms are already investing in the Visayas and Mindanao. These firms are also extending their partnership to Damen.