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Ecozones for Filipino-owned fisheries and aquaculture exports are being encouraged

On Monday, the fisheries sector called for the creation of additional aquaculture economic zones in order to increase the production of processed and value-added aquaculture goods for both the domestic and international markets, as well as to create local job opportunities.

Businesses situated inside Special Economic Zones may benefit from a variety of fiscal and nonfinancial advantages, including tax holidays and streamlined import-export processes, under the terms of the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995.

According to statistics from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), there are 379 operational ecozones in the country, with 22 of them being agro-industrial zones. Tax-free imports of capital equipment, building materials, specialist office equipment and cars, and professional instruments are among the incentives offered.

In addition, industries located inside the ecozone are free from federal, state, and municipal taxes on their importation, as well as from tax credits for the replacement of imported goods.

In addition, PEZA industries are exempt from income tax. Aquaculture and fisheries businesses will be given a minimum of six years of support since they are critical to the achievement of the country’s food self-sufficiency goal.

Despite these advantages, it seemed that the number of people interested in locating or creating an export processing zone for aquaculture and fisheries was limited. While tuna, seaweeds, and shrimps continued to be the country’s top export commodities, accounting for 63 percent (153,667 metric tons) of the total export volume of 226,821 metric tons (MT) and 58 percent (USD531,333 million) of the total export value of USD909 million, no tuna or shrimp-related industry is registered with the PEZA (Portugal Economic Zone Administration).

Only Shemberg Biotech Corporation and Alsons Aquaculture Corporation are PEZA-registered businesses in the 22 agro-industrial zones in which they operate. Additionally, Shemberg is engaged in the processing of seaweeds, while Alsons is involved in the production of feeds as well as fish, shrimps, and other aquaculture farm species for the export market.

It will be remembered that in 2019, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) inked a memorandum of understanding (MOA) aimed at industrializing the agricultural sector.

Director-General of the Philippine Export-Import Bank Charito B. Plaza has said that the deal would boost local production, manufacturing, and exports โ€” as well as decreased reliance on imports.

Earlier, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said that both departments hoped to increase agricultural earnings and provide rural employment possibilities.

Both the DA and PEZA recognize that a collaborative effort is required in promoting and supporting agricultural-oriented activities through the provision of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, and the development of special ecozones in the areas of agro-industrialization, aquaculture, and agro-forestry, according to the minister.

It is now necessary to attract investors to rural industrial centers where they may build up agricultural and agribusiness enterprises that will unleash the potential of agriculture and agribusiness in the nation, he said.

As for the fisheries industry, Norberto Chingcuanco, vice president of planning for the Feedmix Group, said that players in the fisheries sector may become a dominating exporter while also caring for and generating profitable economic development for local communities.

“We can ensure that our local consumers will not be deprived of a sufficient fish protein source,” he said in a virtual press briefing, referring to the recent approval of the interagency task force on the coronavirus on the increase of the domestic sales allowance to 50 percent from the previous 30 percent.

Chongcco believes that local producers are more than capable of meeting the country’s need for easily accessible and reasonably priced food products. Local producers only need production and post-harvest facilities, as well as the infrastructure and systems to support them.

โ€The fisheries and aquaculture industries can create more employment if the government provides them with assistance and economic incentives. We are prepared to take on the challenge of promoting the consumption of processed commodities on a national and worldwide scale. According to Chingcuanco, there are aquaculture companies willing to invest in the processing and export of commodities. However, increased technical support from different agencies is required, particularly because some documentary requirements for PEZA registration include favorable endorsement from the Department of Agriculture (DA), an environmental compliance certificate, and a tax exemption certificate.

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