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27/01/2012: Investment Forum Highlights Increased Confidence on the Philippines’ Business Potential

Photos above show Ambassador Jose Cuisia (second from left) answering a question from the participants in the Investment Roadshow, which was held at the Philippine Embassy on January 25, 2012.

27 January 2012, Washington, D.C. – Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., brought a Philippine Delegation to the U.S., led by premier Filipino economist, Dr. Bernardo Villegas, to discuss the Philippines’ top priority sectors in investments and trade with leading American CEOs and executives. The forum was organized in partnership with the US-ASEAN Business Council.

Other members of the delegation were Mr. Isidro Consunji, Jr, President of the DMCI Holdings Inc., one of the leading construction companies in the country; Mr. Jesus Zulueta, Jr., Managing Director of ZMG Ward Howell, Manila’s leading executive recruiter; and Mr. Bienvenido Araw, Senior Vice President for Project & Organization Development of Benguet Corporation.

“The forum highlights the positive changes in the Philippines’ economic environment since President Aquino assumed office in mid-2010 and illustrates how these changes provide strategic trade and business opportunities to investors from the United States,” the Ambassador explained during the Investment Forum held yesterday at the Philippine Embassy’s Romulo Hall.

Ambassador Cuisia cited the increased confidence on the Philippines’ business potential, as shown in the planned investments of the following: Qatar’s infrastructure projects ($1 billion); Kuwait and Gulf Link Holding Co. ($500 million, on top of the existing $2 billion Global Gateway Logistics City in Clark, Pampanga); Samsung’s micro-chip manufacturing facility at the Clark Special Economic Zone ($1 billion); Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. (¥70 billion expansion of tires production); and Singapore Airlines’ aircraft maintenance facility at the Clark Civil Aviation Complex.

Dr. Villegas, Professor at the University of Asia & the Pacific (UA&P) and Director for Research at the Center for Research and Communications (CRC), identified the positive trends in the Philippines that include “strong macroeconomic fundamentals, labor peace, educated and English-speaking labor force; strategic geographic location, and one of the best performing stock markets in the world.” He confirmed that the seven (7) key industries for strategic investments are: Agribusiness; Business Process Outsourcing; Creative Industries; Infrastructure (airports, power, roads and rail, seaports, telecommunications, water); Manufacturing and Logistics; Mining; and Tourism, Medical Travel and Retirement. “Come to the Philippines and share with us your experts and technology,” said Dr. Villegas.

Mr. Consunji, in turn, said that the bright prospects of the Philippine construction industry will come from tourism, BPO, mining, power and infrastructure sectors. He also identified key investment opportunities in the energy sector: oil & gas exploration; coal exploration; downstream natural gas; downstream oil; sustainable fuels for transport; renewable energy; power; and energy efficiency and conservation.

Mr. Zulueta’s presentation re-affirmed the Philippines’ position as a top outsourcing destination, given the country’s competitiveness in terms of cost efficiencies; suitable and abundant talent; excellent infrastructure; and government support & public-private partnership (PPP). “Brains, personality, and outlook are key for the Philippines’ success,” said Mr. Zulueta.

In presenting the “Glowing Opportunities in Philippine Mining,” Mr. Araw stressed that what is on offer for mining investors are: (1) “buffet” of projects in various stages of mining in gold, copper, nickel, iron ore, manganese and chromite; (2) mining regime that allows 100% foreign ownership through Financial or Technical Assistant Agreement (FTAA) or 60%/40% sharing; (3) package of investment incentives under the Investments Priority Plan (IPP); (4) streamlined permitting process; and (5) a vibrant mining sector evidenced by active trading of mining shares in stock market.

US-ASEAN Business Council President Alexander Feldman reiterated the Council’s support and continued confidence in doing business with the Philippines.

The investment roadshow continues in New York (26-27 January 2012), hosted by the Philippine Consulate General and the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce (PACC)-New York; and in San Francisco (31 January 2012), organized by the Philippine Consulate General/Philippine Trade and Investment Center and the California-Asia Business Council.

More than 50 participants attended the forum that includes CEOs, senior executives, US government agencies, think tanks, business groups, and NGOs.

“I am optimistic that 2012 is going to be another good year for the Philippines, as the Philippine Government continues to promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth that would elevate the country to the ranks of high-performing, emerging economies in the next five years,” Ambassador Cuisia said in concluding the forum. END