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PH reiterates commitment to support post-pandemic recovery plans of Asian countries

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Heading to the post-pandemic recovery, the Philippines will continue to be a strong partner of Asian countries in trade and investments. It was the resounding message of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Board of Investments (BOI) during a webinar titled, “The Philippines: Asia’s Partner in Post-Pandemic Recovery” held recently (December 16, 2021). 

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his opening remarks, ensured the acceleration of the country’s recovery moving forward from the economic debacle brought by the pandemic.  

In his presentation, DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said that the Philippines was already on the move to progress from the detrimental impact of the pandemic to the economy, as the country’s total merchandise trade for the first to third quarter of 2021 ballooned to USD140.55 billion or up by 25.1 percent from USD112.34 billion recorded in the same period in 2020. 

“We are ready to work with you in positioning the Philippines as an ideal business destination in the new normal. Allow us to make it happen for you in the Philippines,” said the Secretary, as the country is seeing “signs of recovery” noting the country’s strong and stable economy coupled with the resilience of the Filipinos, which is the main driver of the economic success. 

Despite the global health crisis, the country’s investments have continued to fare well, as the Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) is on upward trend. Foreign investors continue to stand by the Philippines and invest in mid- to long-term strategic projects even in the middle of a health crisis. As of September 2021, according to the Secretary, cumulative foreign direct investments (FDI) posted at USD 7.3 billion, which is 43.8 percent higher than the USD 5.1 billion recorded from the same period in 2020, and even higher by 24.2 percent over pre-pandemic 2019 FDI levels, which signified “real growth,” according to the Secretary.  

Since 2016, the Philippines has climbed up the ladder for FDI inflows from 6th to 4th place, among fellow ASEAN countries. “Despite experiencing its largest contraction in history in 2020, there is clear trajectory towards recovery based on the turn out on economic and investment performance,” the Secretary added.  

Different in its approach from the other countries, the Philippines implemented no export restrictions on critical products during the pandemic. Aimed at attracting more investments into the country, the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE) Act was passed, offering incentives and enhanced deductions to foreign investors. “With CREATE Act, we are in a position to offer highly competitive incentives that will sustain and help you maximize financial returns from developing a local supply chain network,” the Secretary pointed out.  

Meanwhile, Secretary Lopez assured that the DTI would remain to be a pillar to provide the necessary assistance needed by businesses and investments to continuously grow and prosper. “Trust the Philippine government will continue to improve and innovate its business climate through ushering in new, innovative, and long term strategic policy reforms and programs that will make it easier to do business and will further encourage your investments in the country,” he stressed.   

When it comes to trade and investment opportunities, Asia’s remains to be the strongest and largest partner of the Philippines. Aiming to attain a stronger and sustained economy, Lopez said that the Philippines continues to pursue reforms to foster better business environment for the foreign investors.

“Our Asian neighbors have truly played a huge role as we tide over the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the Secretary.  

In the program, some companies testified to the country’s business environment. Toshiyuki Akaike, President of Terumo (Philippines) Corporation (TPC), shared that his company reaped benefits from investing in the Philippines and he’s “truly grateful for it.” Operating in the Philippines for over two decades, the TPC is a manufacturing subsidiary of Japan’s Terumo Corporation and produces single-use medical devices that are being used in the Philippines and exported to more than 70 countries. 

While Tan Yijun, Chief Executive Officer of China Telecom International Co., Ltd, imparted that the company’s projects would generate job for the Filipinos and provide “high quality, high speed and affordable internet connection for the Filipinos.” China Telecom is a leading integrated information service provider. In the Philippines, it has entered in a notable partnership which aims to build and operate a new nationwide network. 

“If given a chance, I would still choose the Philippines again as a place for business,” said Oliver de Castro, General Manager of the Hi-P Philippines Technology, sharing that the success of his company was spurred by the relentless support of the government agencies and he could not be happier on the result of his decision to choose the country to make opportunities happen. Hi-P is one of the largest and fastest growing integrated contract manufacturers in the Asia region. In the country, it has collaborated with a famous European company that produces household appliances such as vacuum cleaners, hairdryers, and air purifiers. 

Presenting the Philippines as a  destination for investments, Rafaelita Aldaba, of the DTI-Competitiveness and Innovation Group, emphasized that the Philippines is a conducive place to do business with its young population and reasonable compensation, low turnover rate, and huge domestic market. The country has also numerous Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Asian countries, and its recent one is with South Korea.  

Undersecretary Aldaba, serving also as a BOI Governor, pointed out that the Philippines has also an advantage in its Global Value Chain Clusters in Industrial, Manufacturing, and Transport; Technology, Media, and Telecommunications; and Health and Life Sciences.  

Moreover, Rosemarie Edillon, Undersecretary National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), noted that the Philippines was on the right track when it comes to economic outlook. Despite tighter community restrictions, the Philippine economy continued to recover, growing by 7.1 percent in the third quarter of 2021. 

The NEDA Undersecretary also bared the proposed 10-point policy to accelerate and sustain economic recovery, namely: metrics; vaccination; healthcare capacity; economy and mobility; schooling; domestic travel; international travel; digital transformation; pandemic flexibility bill; and medium-term preparation for pandemic resilience. 

Asia remains as the top trading partner of the Philippines with USD104.5 billion or 74.3 percent share of the country’s total trade for the first nine (9) months of 2021, translating to 26.3 percent increase from the same period in 2020. For the period of January to September 2021, the country’s top trading Asian partners, by far, are China (USD 29 billion); Japan (USD16.14 billion); Hong Kong (USD9.82 billion); Singapore (USD8.19 billion); and Thailand (USD7.63 billion). 

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