Philippines President Aquino, while meeting potential Japanese investors urged them to invest heavily in the country. He suggested that there was no better time to set up shop in the Philippines. Aquino encouraged Japanese businessmen to choose the country citing its improved business climate, strong economy and robust workforce. Japanese companies have already made their mark on the Philippine electronics, shipbuilding and automotive industries, among others.
Facing potential Japanese investors, President Aquino on Thursday said there was no better time to set up shop in the Philippines. In a speech before the Philippine Investment Forum, Aquino encouraged Japanese businessmen to choose the country, citing its improved business climate, strong economy and robust workforce. “There are other paths we can pave toward even greater progress, which is precisely why we are here,” the President told some 1,000 businesspeople who turned up for the forum.
“Japanese companies have already made their mark on the Philippine electronics, shipbuilding and automotive industries, among others, to the point where their work and their products are already irreplaceable in the lives of Filipinos. Today, I tell you: there is no better time to set up shop in the country,” he said.
Already, Japanese investors account for the biggest chunk of locators in Philippine economic zones at 29.71 percent, Director General Lilia de Lima of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) said in separate remarks.
“The Philippines as an investment destination is more attractive today than at any other point in our history. We can further deepen, or forge partnerships in which all parties benefit. Our government’s track record speaks for itself, as well as our sustained commitment to moving this forward,” Aquino said.
The President noted opportunities in Philippine infrastructure projects, saying the government is seeking more public-private partnerships in transport infrastructure, such as air and sea ports, and power facilities.
He said foreign direct investments that reached a record $6.2 billion in 2014 helped sustain Philippine economic growth.
The country’s economic growth has averaged 6.3 percent over the last five years, “making us one of the fastest-growing nations in the world,” Aquino said.
“This change has been amplified by Japan’s trust and confidence; allow me to once again express our deep appreciation to Japan for staying the course, for even with the economic difficulties prevalent in many parts of the globe, you have consistently been among the top sources of approved investments into the Philippines,” he said.
In remarks at the forum, Hiroyuke Ishige, chair and CEO of the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro), conveyed his group’s positive view of the Philippine overall development, saying the country was “overcoming its illness.”
Ishige called the Aquino administration “the most stable … among past Philippine administrations.” He said Jetro was planning to send a trade mission to the Philippines later this year.
In his speech, Aquino said the Philippines had adopted the Japanese philosophy of kaizen, or the aspiration for “continuous improvement or change for the better.”
“Though my administration may not necessarily have been familiar with the term at first, we have been practicing our own version of kaizen these past four years and eleven months. Among our goals was for our country to become a strong and competitive player in the global economy,” he said.
He added that his administration was working to enable every Filipino to take part in growing the economy and to contribute to the success of Japanese businesses and the country.
“Those of you who have already established a corporate presence in the Philippines can attest to the caliber of the Filipino worker to the fact that kaizen seems to be inherent in my countrymen, and that they will do everything in their power to ensure you succeed,” the President said.
At the forum, businessmen participated in two cluster meetings: One on equipment, electronics and medical devices, and the other on infrastructure.
The President brought along his delegation of Cabinet officials to the forum, including his top trade and economic officials.
Courting Japanese investors made up for much of the President’s mission in his first state visit to Japan, possibly his last trip here before stepping down in 2016.
Just shortly after his arrival on Tuesday afternoon, he went straight to meetings with top Japanese businessmen, getting their commitment to further boost their existing investments in the Philippines.
Among the firms that took part in Thursday’s investment forum were electronics firms Brother Industries Ltd., Canon, Inc., Funai Electric Co. Ltd., NEC and Uzushio Electric Co. Ltd.; medical technology firms Arkray Inc., Biotech Japan Corp., JMS Co., Terumo Corp. and Tokai Medical Products; holding firms Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Dole International Holdings, Marubeni Corp., Mitsui & Co. Ltd., Mizuho Financial Group, Sojitz Corp., Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and Toyota-Tsusho Corp.; and shipbuilding firm Tsuneishi.
(Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)