Japanese firms based in Kyushu prefecture, in search of new business opportunities in the Philippines, formalized their interest with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Philippine Board of Investments (BOI) and the Kyushu Economy International (KEI), at the New World Hotel, Makati, last July 16, 2019.
The MOU aims to promote economic exchange, deepen people to people understanding and friendship for mutual economic development in the Philippines and the Kyushu region of Japan. Under the agreement, both parties will collaborate in the promotion of investments to encourage the establishment and expansion of businesses; information exchange; and provision of support to facilitate inward investments to each other.
In his keynote following the signing ceremony, Trade Secretary and BOI Chairman Ramon Lopez said, “Kyushu’s focus on seeking new trading partners for their region, is a perfect fit for the Philippines’ goal in creating new trade arrangements with non-traditional partners. Through this MOU, we are confident that we can find complementarities between the industries of the Philippines and Kyushu”. He added that “the Philippines itself is committed to attracting investments that would strengthen the country’s industrial foundation, such as in heavy and upstream industries.”
Sec. Lopez elaborated that there are many areas that the Philippines and KEI can collaborate with, due to natural synergies. He identified 12 priority sectors: electronic manufacturing services; automotive and auto parts; aerospace parts; chemicals; shipbuilding; design-oriented furniture and garments; tool and die; and agri-business. In the services sector, these include the Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM); transport and logistics; tourism; and construction sectors.
Sec. Lopez said the country can offer Kyushu firms business opportunities in clean energy and electronics products, given the standing of the Philippines as the second largest producer of geothermal energy in the world. The same holds true for semiconductors and electronics, which together account for more than half of the country’s total global exports.
At the conclusion of his speech, the trade chief said, “I am confident that this MOU between BOI and KEI will create more opportunities for trade and investment engagements between us. What’s more, this MOU can serve as both a jump-off point and a platform for discussions between the dynamic business communities of the Kyushu region and the Philippines.”
KEI is the primary organization for international economic exchanges in Kyushu, Japan and serves as a cooperative venture between local governments, economic organizations and private firms in Kyushu.
“We have sectors like semiconductors, automotive, agriculture and tourism. These are areas which are growing fast. Kyushu has reached a production output of nearly US$400 billion per year and we would like to grow it further to 20 to 30 percent paving the way for a larger share of Japan’s economy. We have a tagline, “Move Japan Forward from Kyushu.” So we want to grow Kyushu to a larger economy,” said KEI Chairman Yutaka Aso.
Chairman Aso pointed out that “the Philippines has a large market with a young labor force. It is one of the most attractive places in Asia with one of the fastest growing economies. It is possible that a company in Kyushu will advance to the Philippines and cooperate with a company to create a new business that Kyushu cannot do and develop it into the ASEAN region. We highly hope that this MOU will trigger business development between Kyushu and the Philippines.”
The DTI Representative Office in Japan, the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) led by Special Trade Representative (STR) and Commercial Counselor Dita Angara-Mathay, will aggressively increase coverage and expand the engagement of DTI beyond the traditional bases of operations to key cities and prefectures from the east like Niigata and to the West such as Kyushu. She said that the signing of this MOU with KEI brings the total number of similarly signed agreements facilitated by Post to five (5). These include the regional banks of Seibu Shinkin, Resona, Oita and Shoko Chukin. In the last few months alone, STR Mathay said that seven missions composed 240 delegates from various areas such as Sanjo, Niigata, Fukuoka and Hiroshima in Japan have been deployed to the Philippines, for business matching activities, plant visits, government briefings, investment and buying missions.