More Korean firms leaving Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — Thousands of local jobs have been lost since late last year and hundreds more are set to follow in the coming months as the number of Korean manufacturing companies leaving the Philippines for Vietnam continues to rise. 

In an interview, Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines president Ho Ik Lee told The STAR three big garments firms have already shut down operations in the country from late last year to early this year.

Lee said each company employed at least a thousand workers.

The exodus of Korean manufacturing firms, however, does not stop there as one more electronic firm is on its way out of the country this year, leaving at least 250 more employees jobless.

“Some of them are already planning and some have already closed down,” Lee said.

Lee said while it is already problematic to do business in the Philippines, Korean companies shutting down their operations have also expressed  difficulties getting out of the country. 

It is difficult to do business in the Philippine, but it’s more difficult to get out,” Leee said.

“Not every company is doing good, so some closes down. But when they close down, it’s more difficult. Companies have paid the separation fees and comply with laws but they (employees) want more. That makes them (establishment) very difficult to close down,” Lee said.

Earlier, Lee said many Korean firms have been complaining about the higher cost of doing business as well as the lack of incentives in the country, prompting some of them to pack up and leave the country for Vietnam where they see lower costs and an easier way of doing business. 

“The Philippines has advantage compared with other countries. The skill level in the Philippines is quite high. Productivity is also high. So some of the companies are also going to return here should the other problems are addressed,” he said.

Lee said the Department of Trade and Industry has reached out to the Korean business chamber to conduct a dialogue. A meeting with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is also being set.

According to Lee, the three Korean garment firms that closed down as well as the electronics company that would soon close are all PEZA locators.