Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Japan envoy confident Subic dev't will boost CL trade

Allan Macatuno
Inquirer News Service

Japanese Ambassador Ryuichiro Yamazaki has expressed confidence that the ongoing construction of the $215-million Subic Bay Port Development Project here will speed up progress in Central Luzon.

During his visit here last week, Yamazaki said the major infrastructure development being funded through the special yen loan assistance granted by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) would spur economic growth in the region.

"Subic freeport's development is on the right track," Yamazaki told officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) during a meeting at the Subic Bay Yacht Club.

Yamazaki was earlier briefed on the construction of the container port at the Leyte Wharf in Cubi Point here.

According to SBMA Administrator Alfredo Antonio, Japan plays a key role in the development of the freeport.

"This is a very auspicious occasion that will strengthen friendship and collaborative partnership between the Philippines and Japan," Antonio said.

He said the development would make Subic port the major portal of the new Global Gateway, an alliance of Subic and Clark, contributing to the growth of the economy of the entire country.

"After the completion of the new container port, Subic freeport will [benefit from] the international shipping trade in the Asia-Pacific region with the expected increase in volume and sea traffic," Yamazaki said.

The port project, along with the Subic-Clark toll road, would provide an alternative route and port facility to decongest Metro Manila.

The port modernization project was awarded to Penta Ocean Corp., whose partners include Shimitsu Corp. and Toa Corp., after it passed the comprehensive evaluation conducted by the SBMA's bids and awards committee.

Penta submitted the lowest bid of P5.22 billion, about 25 percent lower than the government's estimate of P6.99 billion. The government had saved up to P1.77 billion for the project, SBMA officials said.

Yamazaki also visited the Japanese-owned businesses here and said more Japanese investments would come in as they see Subic "as one of the most excellent sites for business ... set up outside of Japan."

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