PANABO CITY — NP Changs, Inc., the Philippine subsidiary of Japan-based Packwell, Inc., will start moving some of its China operations to Panabo City, Davao del Norte next year with the expected completion of its manufacturing plant at the Anflo Industrial Estate (AIE).

“The cost (of running a plant in China) is getting higher and higher,” Anqi Chang, NP Changs sales director, said at the sidelines of the project groundbreaking ceremony last week.

She added that there is a possibility in the future that the entire China operations will be transferred in Panabo, where the company is investing P1.3 billion.

Japan-based Packwell makes packaging products, mainly for luxury items such as Godiva gourmet chocolates, with an output of about 20 million various boxes annually, according to Ms. Chang.

The local subsidiary is setting up a plant on a 1.6-hectare lot within the 63-hectare AIE owned by Anflo Industrial Estate Corp. and managed by Damosa Land, Inc. (DLI).

DLI First Vice-President Ricardo F. Lagdameo said with NP Changs and 13 other locators, AIE is slowly helping boost Davao Region’s manufacturing sector.

“This is a welcome development because other investors have slowly considered the (industrial) zone as the probable area for their investments,” Mr. Lagdameo told BusinessWorld.

About 200 workers are expected to be hired at the packaging plant, some of whom will be sent to China for training and become local trainers.

Ms. Chang said they already have about 40 Filipino workers in their China plant, who will be given the option to stay or move to the Davao operations.

“(Filipino workers) are very smart, they are fast learners in terms of acquiring new skills,” she said, noting that this was a factor for considering the Philippines as a site for a new plant.

Ms. Chang said they are also looking at expanding their customer base to include Philippine companies that have a growing demand for higher quality packaging, especially for export goods.

“We hope we will have new customers in the Philippines because for now, we don’t have customers in the Philippines,” she said, citing the local chocolate industry as an example.

“I think the chocolate (industry) in the Philippines is getting bigger and bigger and becoming more famous all over the world and it might need better packaging.”

Officials of NP Changs, Inc., a subsidiary of Japan-based Packwell, Inc., together with representatives of Anflo Industrial Estate Corp. and the Panabo City government, take part in the ceremonial groundbreaking of the company’s manufacturing plant on Dec. 19.

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