MANILA, Philippines – About 20 Japanese corporations across several industries have set their sights on the 9,450-hectare Clark Green City development as an investment hub.
This was after the state-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport and Urban Development (JOIN) on Tuesday, March 8, formed a joint venture (JV) corporation tasked to develop a master plan for Clark Green City.
At Shangri-La at The Fort in Taguig City, BCDA president and CEO Arnel Paciano Casanova and JOIN president and CEO Takuma Hatano signed the JV agreement, which initially costs about $2 million.
“55% of the initial investment of $2 million will come from JOIN. About 20 big companies expressed interest [in Clark Green City],” Hatano told reporters on the sidelines of the event.
According to the JOIN president, interested Japanese firms are engaged in energy, healthcare, information and communications technology (ICT), infrastructure, and water.
“Once [the] master plan is completed, we expect more [inquiries] from these kinds of companies,” Hatano said.
Asked why a lot of Japanese corporations are eyeing the development, the JOIN president cited the Philippines’ young population, human capital, and robust economy as reasons. (READ: More Japanese firms urged to invest in Clark)
“This is our first green investment opportunity in the Philippines. Economy of the Philippines is very good. Also the demographic here is very young compared to Japan’s aging population,” Hatano said.
BCDA: Japan is perfect fit for us
For the BCDA’s Casanova, the JV agreement between the Philippines and Japan for Clark Green City is “a perfect fit.”
“This isn’t a simple private equity. This is strategic investment. They need human capital from the Philippines, because Japan has an aging population. We are gateway for ASEAN for Japan; while we don’t have the financing capability that Japan has. It’s a win-win for both countries,” Casanova told reporters.
He said the detailed master plan will lead to more jobs and education opportunities through the development of new industries, logistics, innovation, and ICT. These will be complemented by the setting up of educational institutions, hospitals, and mixed-use developments.
According to Casanova, the detailed master plan of Clark Green City will also serve as the blueprint from which all infrastructure designs will be based once it is completed by yearend.
“The detailed master plan will identify the precise boundaries and measurements of streets, lots, waterways, development zones, and building types, among others, which will be used as the basis for infrastructure design and its eventual construction,” Casanova said. (READ: Clark Green City up for bidding in Q3)
Under the agreement, 45% of the JV corporation will be owned by BCDA and 55% by JOIN.
Casanova said the involvement of JOIN in the development of Clark Green City will lead to multiple joint venture partnerships that will serve as a vehicle for the formation of Japanese consortia and investments in the fields of power, transportation, tollways, industrial zones, and economic centers.
Asked which Japanese corporations have expressed interest, Casanova replied: “We are in a non-disclosure agreement with them. But most of these are interested in industrial estate developments. They will also be looking for Filipino partners.”
Aside from Japanese firms, Casanova said his office also received inquiries from Korean and Singaporean companies.
But because the Philippines is around two months away from choosing its next president, the BCDA chief said the “signing of agreements with these firms might take a while.”
“For utilities’ proposals, there is no rush for now. Sixty days from now, before elections, I don’t think we can sign contracts within timeframe,” he said.
In 2015, the Japanese builder of Shinkansen bullet trains, Hitachi Limited, said it is looking for a local partner for the P200-billion railway project that will link Clark Green City to the Luzon rail system.
“By investing in Clark Green City, JOIN will help transform it into a major economic center of the ASEAN economic bloc,” Casanova said.
Casanova added that JOIN would help identify and attract more Japanese investments in the Philippines. “JOIN will invite global partners to invest in Clark Green City.”
JOIN is a Japanese government corporation that aims to invest and participate in transport or urban development projects, involving Japanese companies, such as bullet trains, airports, and green cities. The Japanese government’s target investment for infrastructure worldwide is 30 trillion yen by 2020.
The 9,450-hectare Clark Green City is envisioned to be the country’s first smart, green, and disaster-resilient metropolis. It is located inside the Clark Special Economic Zone in Tarlac.
Clark Green City’s strategic location and connectivity to major cities in Central Luzon – through the country’s expressways that include the North Luzon Expressway, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, and soon, the Central Luzon Expressway – will allow the convergence from north, east, south, and west, and serve a catchment population of some 12 million people.
It is near the Subic Freeport Zone via the SCTEX and will also have a direct link to the Clark International Airport.
At full development, Clark Green City will have some 1.12 million residents and 800,000 workers. It is expected to contribute a gross output of approximately P1.57 trillion per year to the national economy or roughly a 4% share in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Asked when he sees Clark Green City becoming like Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig, Casanova replied: “15 years from now, we will be the same level as BGC, assuming we grow 6% every year.”
Seen to be “bigger than Manhattan [in New York],” Casanova said “full development of Clark Green City will be 30 to 40 years from now.” – Rappler.com
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