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DTI, SBA strengthen partnership, continue expansion plans in PH 

WASHINGTON, DC—Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez assured SBA Communications Corporation of the Philippine government’s steadfast support for their continued construction and operations in the Philippines as a provider of critical passive infrastructure for wireless communications or Independent Tower Company (ITC). The trade chief met with SBA Senior Director (International) Nicholas Van Slyck and Senior Director (Government and Regulatory affairs) Maria Alexandra Velez on 20 April 2022 to discuss the US company’s ongoing expansion in the country, which includes the incorporation of their local entity in the Philippines as they started hiring local staff in local offices.  

“As the Philippines is in the middle of updating its digital infrastructure, we welcome SBA’s continued expansion in the country, which will create more jobs while enhancing competition that will lead to better and more affordable telecommunication services for the people,” Sec. Lopez said. 

During the meeting, Mr. Van Slyck mentioned the company’s goal of building 180 telecommunication towers in 2022 and its talks with mobile network operators Smart, Globe, and Dito, which have been very receptive to SBA’s shared tower model. At present, the company has installed 20 towers and is expecting to build 42 more by the end of the quarter. 

Mr. Bagwell also commended the process of obtaining business permits in the country, highlighting that it has been much easier now and that dealing with the Philippines “really stands out.” SBA also noted the strong government support to the business sector, which they said should be carried on to the next administration. 

Citing the Duterte administration’s continued push for economic reforms and sound policies and systems in place, the Trade Secretary remains optimistic about the country’s growth trajectory and expects even more Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) to come in. He noted that FDIs in the current administration have tripled compared to previous years. The Philippines is currently 4th in FDIs in ASEAN, with an annual average of USD 85 billion from an average of USD 60 billion in the previous administration. 

“There is a strong connectivity demand in the country as Filipinos spend more time online than any other country in ASEAN and most other countries in the world. The government and the telco players are working hand-in-hand to accelerate the adoption of new technologies and next-generation platforms that are expected to boost production, improve productivity and enhance the country’s competitiveness,” Sec. Lopez explained. 

SBA set up its Passive Telecommunications Towers Infrastructure project in the country in 2021. The company’s application for registration with BOI was approved on 31 March 2021 under Pioneer status with a total project cost of Php10.76B and 353 estimated employment. For its project, SBA intended to install a total of 1,470 tower structures in the country within five (5) years. 

The meeting was also attended by Board of Investments (BOI) Managing Head and Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon.

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