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01/06/2014: MORE AMERICANS SEE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN PH

PRESS RELEASE
WDC-043-2014
2 June 2014

PHILADELPHIA—More investors from the United States are now seriously considering doing business in the Philippines after hearing leading Filipino private sector figures talk about a country brimming with numerous investment opportunities.

“A growing number of American investors are convinced that with its unprecedented economic growth, the Philippines will be a good place for their investments,” Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. said at the end of a successful week-long private sector-led investment roadshow that visited Houston, Atlanta and Philadelphia.

Ambassador Cuisia said investors heard the positive projection made by noted economist Dr. Bernardo Villegas of the University of Asia and the Pacific, who led the private sector delegation from Manila that participated in the 3rd Philippine Investment Roadshow.

In his presentations, Dr. Villegas, who is also known as the “Prophet of Boom,” described the Philippine economy as being at a “tipping point,” citing the positive investment climate in the Philippines, which he predicts to grow up to 15 percent in the next 10 years.

“The 2014 roadshow could not have been scheduled at a better time, now that the Philippines is considered one of the best performing economies in Asia,” Dr. Villegas said. “The Philippines is now regarded as an investment haven by international investors.”

“There is no more any need to prophesy. It is a reality—the Philippines is booming,” said Dr. Villegas. He added that the sustainability of the high growth rates is assured because of the institutionalization of the reforms that have taken place over the past 25 years, particularly during the first four years of President Benigno S. Aquino III who implemented a policy of transparency and good governance.

“The economy is showing so much potential and there are numerous sunrise industries to look out for, developing sectors which are increasingly contributing to the economy of the Philippines. These include agribusiness, mining, automobiles, education, the triple T’s: transport, telecom, and tourism, and the four F’s: food, fashion, furniture, and fun,” said Dr. Villegas.

The same optimism was shared by the other members of the private sector delegation: Alfredo Austria, President of DMCI; Rainerio Borja, President of Expert Global Solutions Philippines; Martin Pascual, Director of Pascual Laboratories; and Benjamin Philip Romualdez Jr., President of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines.  

During the roadshow, Austria gave a detailed and compelling presentation on the attractive investment opportunities for American investors in real estate, construction, infrastructure, engineering and architectural services.

"There is a resurgence in the industrial sector. While in the past 10 years there were problems selling industrial lots, we found that industrial estates sold out lots last year alone,” Austria said. “This sudden uptake requires new development of manufacturing zones to meet increasing demand from manufacturers seeking to set up in the Philippines.”

For his part, Pascual said the continuing rise in the health and wellness consumption of the Philippines is good for pharmaceutical companies and health service providers. He also mentioned the growth in research in genomics, herbal and natural products, marine biodiversity and stem cell.

According to him, the Philippines is well-placed in expanding its pharmaceutical and biotech industries given its access to the ASEAN market of over 600 million people. Pascual added that the country has also done an excellent job in protecting intellectual property rights and has no compulsory licensing requirements.

Prospects also remain bright for the information technology and business process management industry, which according to Borja is expected to create more than 1.3 million direct employment opportunities and reach $26 billion in revenues by 2016.

Borja said the IT-BPM industry is growing at a rapid rate of 25 percent annually not only because of the scalable educated talent pool available in the Philippines but also because of the country’s cost competitiveness, excellent infrastructure, government support, public private partnerships and the industry’s proven track record.

In his presentation, Romualdez sees potentials in the mining industry following the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“It is a step in the right direction and will bring us closer to developing the mining potential of Mindanao,” he said. “The mining sector will likely contribute up to 2 percent of GDP if mining projects will be approved and implemented.”

Based on the large turnout and positive response of American corporate executives and investors during the business forums of the 3rd Philippine Private Sector-Led Investment Roadshow, Ambassador Cuisia said he is optimistic that there will be more American investments pouring into the country.

“Trade between the Philippines and the US has grown from $13 billion in 2009 to $15 billion in 2010, and up to $22 billion in 2011. We are definitely on the right track,” the country’s top diplomat in Washington said.

In Philadelphia, Ambassador Cuisia and the delegation, accompanied by Consul General Mario de Leon, Deputy Consul General Zaldy Patron, First Secretary and Consul Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez and Trade Representative Michelle Sanchez, also met with city officials and members of the local business community as well as the Filipino-American Community, particularly the Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce of Philadelphia and South New Jersey led by Dr. Rommel Rivera and Brad Baldia.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter personally met with the Philippine delegation to emphasize his city’s interest to explore more trade and investment relations with the Philippines. Other officials present were Councilman David Oh; Chair Ken Wong and Nina Ahmad of the Commission on Asian American Affairs; Deputy Secretary Will Muskens; and Rob Wonderling of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

After speaking at the business forum held at the University of Pennsylvania and sponsored by Ayalaland, the Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress and the Wharton Lauder institute, members of the delegation had eight one-on-one meetings with US companies that are seriously pursuing business in the Philippines.

Ambassador Cuisia said he expects the roadshow to further improve trade and economic ties with the US as well as mobilize the Filipino-American community to play an active role in the growth of the Philippine economy. ###