MANILA – The Philippines will soon have its first liquid steel plant following the signing of an agreement between SteelAsia and a Chinese firm during the recent state visit of President Ferdinand R. Marcos to China.
Philippine Ambassador to China Jaime FlorCruz on Saturday said the bilateral cooperation agreement between SteelAsia and Baowu Group Zhongnan Iron and Steel Company was part of the estimated USDD22.8-billion investment projects and deals that the Philippines secured in Beijing.
The partnership will need at least USD1.5 billion to set up the mill.
“This facility will have an annual capacity of up to three million metric tons of iron and steel, and is expected to generate 2,000 to 3,000 jobs,” FlorCruz told the Philippine News Agency in a text message.
At the Saturday News Forum at Dapo Restaurant in South Triangle, Quezon City, FlorCruz said the Philippines is one of the few countries in Southeast Asia that do not produce its own steel.
“This (investment) will lead to the first liquid steel plant in the Philippines. Mahalagang step iyon para maumpisahan natin ‘yung manufacturing industry natin (This is an important step to jumpstart our manufacturing industry),” he said.
“So makikita natin na tangible ‘yung goal ng proyektong ito (We can see that this project has a tangible goal),” he added.
FlorCruz is optimistic that China would deliver on the rest of the USD22.8-billion worth of pledges.
“Iyong mga pledge, una ay nanggaling sa taas, hindi lamang mga Chinese company ang nag-sign. This time nararamdaman ko na ‘yung mga pledge, ‘yung mga MOU (memorandum of understanding) ay talagang senyales ng mga opisyal sa taas na (The pledges, first of all, came from the higher-ups, so it’s not only the Chinese companies that signed them. This time I can assume that the pledges and MOUs are sanctioned by higher officials) that this time, we will deliver tangible benefits, tangible projects,” he said.
On the other hand, he pointed out the need for the Philippine side to push for the execution of said commitments.
“Nasa ating mga ahensya ng gobyerno na siguraduhin na ‘yung mga pinangako, na ‘yung mga pinirmahan ay talagang mangyayari (Our government agencies must ensure that the pledges and agreements signed would materialize),” he said.
During the state visit of President Marcos to China this week, Manila and Beijing signed 14 cooperation documents focused on infrastructure, tourism, agriculture, and trade, among others.
According to its profile, Steel Asia, founded in 1965, supplies more than 80 percent of the steel or reinforcing bar requirements for land, air, sea, power and communications infrastructure in the country.
“We are the preferred supplier of the largest contractors and property developers in the Philippines,” read the company profile. (PNA)