SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Taiwanese computing giant Wistron Infocomm Corp. will be reopening its manufacturing plant here, setting up to revive its Subic facility that has been the biggest export manufacturer in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone a decade ago.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the firm conducted recruitment activities here for two days last week. Eisma said the company intends to hire some 2,500 workers for its plant that has largely remained mothballed in the last eight years.
Wistron’s return to Subic is seen as a direct result of the emerging trade war between the economies of the United States and China.
Eisma, who attended an investment and trade briefing in Chicago last month, said the SBMA expects more global companies affected by the trade war to consider moving out to Subic or other economic zones in the country.
Wistron’s comeback, she added, “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.”
According to SBMA Labor Department Manager Severo C. Pastor Jr., Wistron processed more than 4,000 applications during the two-day schedule of exams and job interviews last week, with 900 applicants passing the qualifiers in the first day alone.
“They wanted ‘HOTS,’ or hired on the spot, so Taiwanese personnel from the company personally conducted the interviews,” Pastor said.
SBMA labor personnel also assisted in the second day to help process the growing number of applications, he added.
Wistron started out in Subic in 1995 as Acer Information Products (Philippines) Inc., a computer manufacturing outfit of Acer Inc., Taiwan’s biggest computer firm. In 2006 it became known as Wistron Infocomm (Philippines) Corp. when Acer Inc. spun off its Subic operations to include a Mobile Operations Unit.
In 2008 Wistron was on top of the heap, contributing $274.88 million or more than a fourth of Subic’s export total at a time when Korean shipbuilder Hanjin, now the biggest Subic exporter, was just a fledgling operation with $61.74 million worth of exports.
In 2010, however, Wistron closed its hand-held device plant in Subic, shifting all of its production here, save for its design automation center, to a facility in Zhongshan, China. 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.
Now, with the threat by President Donald J. Trump to withdraw from Nafta, which he has criticized to have allowed Mexico to “steal” jobs from the United States, Wistron reportedly considers shifting some of the Mexico operation back to Subic.