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REPORT FROM BUSINESSWORLD Ten foreign firms set up regional operating headquarters (ROHQs) in the Philippines in the first quarter of the year, the Trade department said in a recent statement. The statement quoted Trade Undersecretary and Board of Investments (BoI) Managing Head Elmer C. Hernandez as saying the 10 firms invested a total of $1.4 million to put up their ROHQs here. "The total amount invested in the first quarter of this year surpassed the $1 million invested by various foreign companies that set up their regional headquarters here last year," Mr. Hernandez said. Republic Act (RA) 8756, which amended Executive Order (EO) 226 -- or the Omnibus Investment Code of 1987, seeks to encourage multinational firms to set up a base in the country that will perform core services for its affiliates, subsidiaries or branches. The companies that will set up ROHQs in the Philippines are: Paypal Asia Services Ltd., Jinchuan Group, Naxos Global Distribution Ltd., NP Regional Headquarters Phils., Lindberg A/S, Manulife Data Services Inc., Branders.Com Inc., Blue Frog Mobile Inc., Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, and Hilo Fish Co. Inc. Paypal Asia Services Limited, a subsidiary of eBay that is registered in Mauritius, is investing $200,000 to put up its Asia-Pacific headquarters here. Jinchuan Group, a multinational based in China that is engaged in mining, is spending $50,000 to put up its Manila office. Hong Kong-based Naxos Global, which engages in music distribution, is spending $200,000 to set up its office in Makati. Denmark-based Lindberg A/S is engaged in shares trading, while Japan-based NP Regional Headquarters Phils. is engaged in the manufacture of food processing machines.
Manulife is spending $200,000 to set up an ROHQ in the Philippines which will provide data processing to Manulife Group of Companies. Four United States-based firms are investing a total of $650,000 to put up their ROHQs here. Branders.Com is engaged in the distribution and sale of promotional items, Blue Fros is into providing information communications technology-enabled services, Valeant Pharmaceuticals is engaged in the manufacture of chemicals and botanical products, while Hilo Fish is involved in the importation, production and whole distribution of fresh and frozen seafood. Republic Act 8756 amended Executive Order 226, or the Omnibus Investments Code, to encourage foreign firms to set up in the Philippines their regional or area headquarters, regional operating headquarters, or regional warehouses. RA 8756 defines a regional headquarters as an office which serves as an administrative branch of a multinational company engaged in international trade. Specifically, that office serves as a supervision, communications and coordination center for its subsidiaries, branches or affiliates in the Asia-Pacific Region and other foreign markets, and does not earn or derive income in the Philippines. An ROHQ refers to a foreign business entity that is allowed to derive income in the Philippines by performing qualifying services to its affiliates, subsidiaries or branches in the Philippines, in the Asia-Pacific Region and in other foreign markets. Such services include general administration and planning; business planning and coordination; sourcing and procurement of raw materials and components; corporate finance advisory services; marketing control and sales promotion; training and personnel management; logistic services; research and development services and product development; technical support and maintenance; data processing and communication; and business development. EO 226 offers investment incentives like repatriation of investments, remittance of earnings, right to avail of foreign loans, freedom from expropriation, as well as other benefits for ventures considered by the government as high priority areas of economic activity. Preferred areas of activity are listed in the annual Investments Priorities Plan. -BusinessWorld