MANILA, Philippines – The strong investor interest in the country seen in 2014 will likely be sustained in the next two years amid expectations of continued favorable economic conditions.
According to trade undersecretary Ponciano Manalo Jr., investor interest in the Philippines is very high as shown by the number of inbound business missions conducted here this year.
As of end-November, inbound business missions to the country reached 203, 96.7 percent of the 210 total in 2013.
With inbound investment missions still coming in December, Manalo said the country is poised to end the year with a higher tally compared to the previous year’s.
An inbound mission, which involves the visit of at least five companies to the country at the same time, is conducted to check out available investment opportunities.
Manalo said that as the number of inbound business missions pick up, investments being made to the country are also growing.
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Latest data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas showed that foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows reached $4.88 billion in the January to September period.
The nine-month FDI tally has exceeded the central bank’s target of $4.44 billion for the entire 2014 and total FDI inflows amounting to $3.9 billion last year.
For the next two years, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is upbeat the strong interest in the country would continue which hopefully translates to more investments.
“My philosophy is that 2015 and 2016 is going to be about being better. It’s going to be about realizing all the optimism that happened in the past four years,” Manalo said.
“I don’t see any doubt that investments will be up in 2015 and 2016. All numbers indicate strong GDP (gross domestic product) growth,” he said.
Government data showed the Philippine economy grew by 5.3 percent in the third quarter, lower than the 6.4 percent growth rate posted in the previous quarter and the seven percent growth in the third quarter last year.
The nine-month growth tally is estimated at 5.8 percent.
Manalo noted that as remittances sent by overseas Filipino workers are expected to continue to surge, and the business process outsourcing sector’s workforce, which breached one million this year, keeps on expanding, consumption would remain robust in the next two years.
The country’s population which offers a big market for companies, will
also support greater investor interest.
The availability of a young, skilled, and English-speaking workforce likewise makes the country an attractive place to do business.
“You have all the elements that will really push you forward and institutionalize all the gains for 2015 and 2016. I really think you cannot find something in any of the indicators that will tell you you will have a bad year in 2015 and 2016,” Manalo said.
To encourage more companies to do business in the country, the DTI intends to continue to undertake promotions and push for certain sectors where investments are needed.
“We’re looking at companies from Taiwan and Japan to invest in companies here to be able to get manufacturing,” Manalo said.
“We’re also waiting for the completion of the auto policy. Once that happens, we’ll see some investments coming in,” he added.
Aside from manufacturing, other sectors to be promoted to attract investments are game development and animation, healthcare information management as well as tourism.
For his part, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said earlier the hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit next year, is likewise seen to help promote the Philippines as an investment destination.
This, as the APEC meetings provide the country an opportunity to showcase to the world what it has to offer.
“From our experience, the most powerful promotion tool for foreign investments is to bring those companies here to see for themselves what we have to offer,” he said.
As the APEC meetings would not only be held in Manila, but also in other cities such as Legazpi in Albay, Clark in Pampanga, Bagac in Bataan, Boracay, Bacolod, Iloilo, Tagaytay and Cebu, business opportunities there would likewise be promoted.
“By going to the regions, we likewise will be making a very important point. As the global spotlight shines on different locations around the country, our guests will discover a consistency in the high standards of professionalism and high quality of skills, talent, and creativity of our people,” Domingo said.