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Wistron to reopen Subic plant

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SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Wistron Infocomm Corp., formerly one of the biggest export manufacturers in this freeport, will soon resume production operations here.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman and administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the Taiwanese computer giant has conducted recruitment activities here for two days last week in order to hire workers for some 2,500 positions at its Subic facility.

Wistron’s return to Subic came as a direct result of the emerging trade war between the super-economies of the United States and China, as well as of the threat by the Trump administration to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“You can say that this again validates the inherent strength of Subic as a strategic business location, because when other countries lose their initial advantages in terms of cheap labor or distribution cost, companies opt for Subic,” Eisma said.

She added that the SBMA expects more global companies affected by the trade war to consider moving out to Subic or other economic zones in the country.

According to SBMA Labor Department manager Severo Pastor, Wistron processed more than 4,000 applications during the two-day schedule of exams and job interviews last week, with 900 workers passing the qualifiers in the first day alone.

“They wanted HOTS—hired on the spot, so Taiwanese personnel from the company personally conducted the interviews. The SBMA labor personnel simply assisted in the second day to help process the growing number of applications,” Pastor noted.

Wistron Infocomm (Philippines) Corp. started out in Subic in 1995 as Acer Information Products (Philippines) Inc., a computer manufacturing outfit of Acer Inc., Taiwan’s biggest computer firm. It earned its current name in 2006 when Acer Inc. spun off its Subic operations and infused fresh capitalization of $36 million to include a Mobile Operations Unit (MSU).

In 2008, Wistron contributed more than a fourth of Subic’s $977.84 export total with export production of $274.88 million, leading the top 10 Subic exporters when Korean shipbuilder Hanjin, now the biggest exporter, was just a fledgling operation with $61.74 million worth of exports.

In 2010, however, Wistron closed its handheld device plant in Subic, shifting all of its production here to a facility in Zhongshan, China, but leaving its design automation center here. The move displaced about 700 workers, some 200 of whom were reportedly sent off to a Wistron plant in the border-town facility of Juarez, Mexico.

In a clear reversal of fortune, Pastor said the newly-opened positions in Subic were the result of the company’s plan to relocate their operations in Mexico due to the threat by President Donald Trump to withdraw from NAFTA, which he has criticized to have allowed Mexico to “steal” jobs from the United States and opening the border to cheap, tariff-free goods.

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