Record year for electronics

By Jessica Anne D. Hermosa, BusinessWorld

Posted at Jan 25 2011 09:58 AM | Updated as of Jan 26 2011 02:03 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines bagged its largest ever haul of electronics investment pledges last year as 100 firms committed to infuse $2.318 billion for factories amid a sharp rebound in export sales, an industry group yesterday said.

The 2010 total is roughly twice earlier estimates made by the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc. (SEIPI) after Texas Instruments and other firms belatedly announced more investment plans, the group’s president Ernesto B. Santiago said in a telephone interview.

The tally is also double the previous high recorded back in 2007 before the global economic downturn weakened demand for electronics, the country’s largest export earner.

"This ... is the highest in the Philippine semiconductor and electronics industry’s history," SEIPI said in a statement, further noting that the 2010 figure is a fourfold improvement from 2009’s $480 million worth of pledges.

Last year was also only the seventh year that the sector recorded over $1 billion in investment pledges, the group said.

"The last time was in years 2007, 2000, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994," it added.

Texas Instruments Philippines, Inc.’s P17.938-billion expansion was approved by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority in November, data made available to BusinessWorld showed.

Ibiden Philippines, Inc., meanwhile, pledged three investments totaling P18.342 billion.

Rounding out the top 10 big-ticket investment pledges were: Sun Power Philippines Manufacturing, Ltd., STMicrolelectronics, Inc., Toshiba Information Equipment Philippines, Inc., Hitachi Global Storage Technology Philippines Corp., Wu Kong Pte. Ltd., and Panasonic Systems Networks Philippines Corp.

Ten of the investment pledges were for expansions while the remaining 90 were for new projects, SEIPI said. It estimates the projects will generate 24,552 new jobs.

The planned investments should also support the industry group’s targets of doubling the sector’s 2009 export sales to $50 billion by 2016.

Last year’s sales could have grown by at least 39% to over $31 billion, SEIPI reiterated, a return to pre-crisis levels before the industry saw a 2.9% contraction in 2008 and a much larger 22.2% decline in 2009.

Export sales this year are forecast to moderate to a 10% growth, the group said.