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Luzon Economic Corridor rail cost estimated at $7B — Go

THE cost of setting up the rail lines linking the various sites along the Luzon Economic Corridor was estimated at $7 billion by Secretary Frederick D. Go of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President for Investment and Economic Affairs.

Mr. Go made the remarks on the sidelines of the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines-San Miguel Corp. economic forum on Monday.

Mr. Go said that a number of countries are interested in investing in the US and Japan-backed corridor’s development. “I believe that European countries are now wanting to join in on this project,” he added.

Mr. Go said discussions with interested countries are still at the preliminary stages.

“Say the UK will join, or say for example, a few countries from the European Union (EU) will join, they will encourage companies, both government and private corporations, from their countries to invest in that corridor,” he said.

“When we say invest in that corridor, we’re not just talking about the rail, we’re talking about everything that goes up around it — the infrastructure and businesses.”

The project is being pursued under a trilateral agreement between the Philippines, US and Japan. The proposed corridor seeks to boost connectivity between Manila, Batangas, Subic and Clark via a cargo rail line.

The project will “prioritize strategic investments in high-impact infrastructure projects such as rail, ports, clean energy, data centers, and agri-business centers,” Mr. Go added.

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has said that many of its locators are expected to benefit from the corridor.

There are about 1,600 PEZA-registered manufacturing, service, and export-oriented companies based in 137 economic zones in Metro Manila, Clark, and Batangas.

The project is being pursued under the US-led G7 Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment and is the “first of its kind” in the Indo-Pacific region, according to the US State department.

Meanwhile, Mr. Go said the contract to maintain and operate Laguindingan International Airport in northern Mindanao is expected to be awarded to the private sector soon.

“Moreover, within this quarter, we are also expected to award a concession agreement for the Laguindingan International Airport,” he said.

The Transportation department has said that at least two parties have expressed interest in the upgrade and operations contract for the airport. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz