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PH economic team meets Japanese investors, boasts conducive business climate

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By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios

Taking advantage of the growing confidence of foreign investors in the Philippines, the Department of Trade and Industry met with Japanese businesses in Tokyo and brandished the country’s conducive business climate that foreign investors are looking for.

“The Philippine government is creating a business environment that promotes and encourages foreign investment. We are enacting recent policy reforms, that strategically broaden the participation of foreign companies in key sectors of the Philippine economy,” said DTI Secretary Fred Pascual during a meeting with Sojitz Corporation on June 19.

Pascual together with the Philippine Economic Team and representatives from various Philippine government agencies, met with Sojitz Corporation Executive Officer, President, and Chief Operating Officer Kosuke Uemura.

The Trade Chief discussed that the Philippine government is actively working to create a conducive business climate in the Philippines through amendments to key legislation such as the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, Foreign Investments Act, Public Services Act, and Renewable Energy Act. These policy reforms have captured foreign participation in previously restricted sectors, increased foreign direct investments, and accelerated economic growth.

Moreover, the establishment of green lanes for strategic investments has streamlined the investment process. As of May 31, 2024, the DTI has approved green lane endorsements for 68 projects, attracting USD 35 billion in investments across various sectors, including manufacturing, digital infrastructure, and food security.

The DTI acknowledges the concerns raised by foreign investors regarding value-added tax (VAT) incentives. Notably, the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act’s implementing rules and regulations have been amended to address VAT-related issues experienced by registered business enterprises (RBEs).

In collaboration with the Department of Finance, the DTI continues to work towards a simpler and more efficient VAT regime through the CREATE MORE Bill, which recently gained second-reading approval in the House of Representatives.

The head of DTI’s field office in Japan, Commercial Counselor Dita Angara-Mathay, reported that Sojitz envisions more investments in cell tower construction and co-location. The company is also eager to contribute to the country’s food security and farmers’ welfare programs through its science-based farming project utilizing, among others, its high-quality NPK fertilizer.

These interests were validated by the presence in the meeting of the trading house’s Executive Officer of Aerospace, Transportation, and Infrastructure, Mr. Masakazu Hashimoto; and the Executive Officer and COO of the Consumer Industry and Agriculture Business, Mr. Hideo Hatada.

Recognizing the vital role of public-private partnerships in economic development, the recently enacted Public-Private Partnership Code of the Philippines streamlines collaboration between the government and private sector to promote the efficient delivery of critical infrastructure projects.

“The DTI extends a warm invitation to Japanese businesses to explore the vast opportunities within the Philippine market. With a strong economic foundation, a commitment to a transparent and investor-friendly environment, and a shared vision for a sustainable future, the Philippines stands ready to solidify its position as a strategic partner for Japan,” Secretary Pascual said as he pitched the country’s strong economic potential to Japanese businesses.

The meeting with Sojitz Corporation leveraged the company’s established presence in the Philippines, with various investments in fertilizers, mining, food production, and automotive dealerships.

Sojitz Corporation is a leading general trading company in Japan, established in 2003 through the merger of Nichimen and Nissho Iwai. With a presence in over 70 countries, the company is engaged in various businesses, including manufacturing, sales, import/export, and investments across various sectors, such as automobiles, aerospace, energy, and consumer goods.

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