Nippon investors eye Laguindingan logistics hub, Oro Hospital

The Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc. is confident a new wave of Japanese investors will soon be coming to Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental to invigorate the regional economy.

During a recent trade mission to Osaka and Tokyo, the Oro Chamber delegation headed by current President Robertino Pizarro, past president Ruben  Vegafria, trustees Manuel Boniao and Pio Baconga with Executive Director Chris Ivan Lagapa, called one of Japan’s largest conglomerates and the Philippine Embassy to follow up expressed interests in the city and province.

“We were warmly welcomed at Air Water Inc.’s corporate headquarters in Osaka by Mr. Shinichi Sato, general manager of their Global Business Dept. and Mr. Naohisa Shimada, assistant general manager,” Vegafria said. “We also met Air Water Inc. Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Masahiro Toyoda.”

Air Water Inc. is a conglomerate with interests in industrial gas, chemical processing, medical equipment, energy, agribusiness and food and logistics. It had a $64-billion turnover in 2016.

Its Industrial Gas-related segment is engaged in the manufacture and sale of industrial gas, high-pressure gas equipment manufacture and instalment while its Chemical-related segment manufactures basic and fine chemical products.

The Medical segment provides medical gas products (oxygen and nitrogen), medical equipment and hospital equipment construction while its Energy-related segment offers liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and kerosene.

The Agriculture- and Food-related segments are engaged in the wholesale processing of fruit and vegetables, manufacture and sale of processed meat products and frozen food, as well as the production of drinking water, while its Others segment is engaged in the logistics, seawater, and aerosol businesses.

Air Water Inc. was founded in 1929 and is headquartered in Osaka, Japan. In March 31, 2014, the company had 154 subsidiaries and 60 associated companies.

“Air Water Inc. is interested to explore further possibility of establishing a logistics hub in Laguindingan through its affiliate Air Water Logistics Co, Ltd., in coordination with Ayala Corporation which owns properties around the airport,” Boniao said. “A fact-finding team has previously visited Laguindingan to look at the airport expansion and proposed establishment of seaport by Philippine Ports Authority in the area.”

In addition to its operation as a hub for the group-wide transport infrastructure, Air Water Logistics, Co., Ltd. proposes sophisticated logistics services to customers outside the Air Water Group.

The company professes a comparative advantage in advanced temperature control technologies innovated in the in-house transport of low-temperature liquefied gas, and has been expanding its expertise to sectors where its low temperature transport technology proves an advantage, such as food products and medical fields in which sensitive temperature control is critical to preserve quality and freshness.

Since it started operations in the second quarter of 2013, Northern Mindanao’s main air gateway in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental (CGY) has accommodated 58, 309 flights, some 6,835,913 passengers and 87,554 metric tons of cargo which has made it the fifth busiest airport in the Philippines after Manila, Cebu, Davao and Kalibo, which are all international airports.

Over the four equivalent years it’s been in operations from the 2nd quarter of 2013 to 2nd Quarter, 2017, data from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) shows CGY has been averaging approximately 14,600 flights, some 1.75 million passengers and 22,000 MT of cargo annually.

Broken down into average figures per quarter of the 16-month period it’s been in operation, that’s 3,644 flights per quarter moving some 428,000 passengers and 5,472 MT of cargo.

“We expect to breach the 1.9 million passenger mark this year,” said Engr. Jose G, Budiongan, concurrently CAAP Area X and Laguindingan Airport Manager. Already, a P14.3-billion expansion project to handle the increasing passenger and cargo traffic has been included in the Duterte administration’s “Build! Build! Build!” Infrastructure Development Program.

Further down the road, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) recently commenced comprehensive planning for a new port in Laguindingan with the conduct of a Topographic, Hydrographic and Port Zone Delineation Survey.

“These are the initial steps in conceptualizing a port facility that would be best suitable for the Port of Laguindingan envisioned to eventually accommodate a cruise ship terminal in addition to the fast ferry terminal,” said PPA Cagayan de Oro-Misamis Oriental Port Manager Isidro V. Butaslac, Jr.

In addition to exploring logistics, Air Water Inc. has also expressed interest in importing coconut water and coco sap sugar, which are already among Northern Mindanao’s chief exports.

Among the top coconut and coco-based exports of  Northern Mindanao are activated carbon, coconut chemicals, coconut fiber, coconut cream, coconut milk powder, coconut oil, coconut husk, coconut shell charcoal, coconut water, copra cake/meal, desiccated coconut, fat coconut, fresh young nut, reduced fat coconut, sweetened coconut, toasted coconut, and palm oil’s fatty acid.

From Osaka, the Oro Chamber mission proceeded to Tokyo where they met Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose Laurel V, who shared the imminent plan of a Japanese investor to establish an AIC Hospital in Cagayan de Oro City.

“We discussed and promoted the potential of the region as an ideal destination for Japanese investors. Also present during the cordial meeting was Ms. Cassandra Sawadjaan, second secretary and consul economic officer of the Philippine Embassy, and daughter of former PPA Northern Mindanao Regional Manager Sak Sawadjaan,” Pizarro said. 

Pizarro is scheduled to meet Ambassador Laurel in the 1st Quarter of 2018 to link up with more potential Japanese investors and bring them to the Philippines.

Mike Baños is a Cagayan de Oro City-based journalist and national correspondent who writes in his own website, Photo: Oro Chamber trade delegation meets with Air Water Inc.  Global Business Dept. in Osaka, Japan.