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March 30, 2017

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Philippine electronics exports hit record high

MANILA -- Investments in the Philippine electronics sector hit a record US$2.3 billion last year, driving exports to reach US$31.1 billion, also the highest in the industry's history.

In a briefing Friday, Seipi president Ernesto Santiago said electronics exports had the potential to grow by at least 10 percent a year and could hit the US$50-billion mark by 2016.

Last year, electronics exports accounted for 61 percent of the country's merchandise exports. Of the US$31.1-billion total, 71 percent came from semiconductors and 23.4 percent from electronic data processing or computer-related products, Santiago said.

In terms of employment, the electronics industry provided jobs to an additional 25,000 people in 2010, he added.

According to the industry rule of thumb, each direct job in the electronics industry gave rise to seven indirect jobs. This meant that the industry provided livelihood to an additional 175,000 individuals last year.

As the industry continued to expand, he said it would be possible for engineers in Libya to be repatriated and given jobs in the country.

"There's a possibility of hiring engineers from Libya, if they will be qualified. There may also be (information technology) engineers who can be absorbed by the local industry," Santiago said.

To ensure that the projected growth of the industry materializes, however, yearly investments must reach at least US$2 billion, Santiago said.

Just three months into the year, Seipi chair Dan Lachica said hitting the US$2-billion investment level this year was highly possible, considering that there were already more than US$200 million in investments committed by two industry players.

Lachica related how Toshiba recently committed to invest US$100 million to expand its operations in the country.

First Philec, a Lopez company where Lachica serves as chief executive, will also be investing US$104 million for a new joint venture with Korean company Nexolon.

The new company, to be called First Philec Nexolon Corp., will perform the same functions as First Philec Solar Corp., but will serve the requirements of Nexolon instead of American firm Sunpower.

"We need to expand capacity to boost exports. To do this, we need to promote the Philippines, enhance the competitiveness of Filipinos, lower the cost of power, and make a conducive environment for business to grow," Santiago explained.

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