Korea’s giant shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Co.-Philippines (HHIC-Phils.) has remained interested in pursuing its P8-billion expansion project in the Phividec Industrial Estate in Tagoloan, Misamis, Oriental.

Philippine Economic Zone Authority Director General Lilia B. De Lima told reporters at the sidelines of the 15th PEZA Investors Recognition Night that Hanjin officials conveyed this message late last year.

According to De Lima, the Korean shipbuilder is just closely watching the economy following the global financial crisis, which took a heavy toll among shipbuilders and shipping firms.

“They are just waiting for the right time,” she said.

Hanjin had registered with PEZA in 2008, but it had a tiff with the local government unit in Misamis Oriental that also caused some delays in the project’s implementation.

The proposed project in Phividec was supposedly an expansion of Hanjin’s existing project in Subic Bay Freeport but on a larger scale.

“This is bigger than Subic because this is going to occupy a total of 450 hectares compared to Subic’s 200-hectares only,” De Lima said.

Hanjin’s investments in Subic was placed at $1.6 billion and is employing more than 15,000 workers at the freeport. The company has been exporting ocean-going vessels made in Subic Freeport.

HHIC-Phils. officials said the company expects to produce more ships in Subic as the productivity in its shipyard here is fast catching up with Hanjin’s shipyard in South Korea saying the goal is to make the Philippine operations at par with its South Korean counterpart in terms of efficiency and quality of work.

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