The Philippines sees Japan as an important partner in a post-pandemic era cemented further by the recent signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) where both countries are part of, the country’s economic managers said.
At the Nikkei Philippines Japan Business Investment Virtual Forum yesterday, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the Philippines remains a promising investment destination to Japanese businessmen and offered numerous opportunities for collaboration.
In his remarks, Lopez said the Philippines has noted a number of Japanese investments in the pipeline and is encouraged by the strong interest in the areas of manufacturing, such as wiring harness, electronics, medical devices, renewable energy, and even in retailing and infrastructure development.
Lopez also said the Philippines considers Japan as a strategic partner in the manufacturing industry for electronics, automotive, aerospace and chemicals.
He said other preferred areas are in the manufacture of healthcare products such as medical devices, personal protective equipment (like surgical masks, medical coveralls), pharmaceuticals, food, packaging and construction materials (like iron and steel) including cement.
Lopez also said the Philippines welcomes new Japanese investments in shipbuilding and infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build.
Dominguez echoed this, citing Japan’s valuable assistance to the Build, Build, Build program, as well as its generous support when the government needed to access emergency financing for its coronavirus disease 2019 response.
For services, Lopez noted the Philippines’ track record of collaboration with Japan in animation, engineering and architectural design.
Lopez also cited opportunities in logistics, smart manufacturing, electronics design services and Internet of Things.
Other prospects for future collaboration with Japan include video game development, software development, conventional and renewable energy, retirement infrastructure like retirement villages, and smart city development.
“Next year, we expect our economy to post a strong rebound. The challenges are immense, but we are determined to build back a better economy that our people deserve,” Dominguez said.
Lopez shared this observation saying the country is poised to exhibit a sharp V-shaped recovery.
He cited the following as factors why Japanese investors should continue investing in the Philippines: the 110-million population; access to key markets through its free trade agreements with other countries and regions, as well as the Generalized System of Preferences with the US and the EU; young, educated and tech-savvy labor force with wage rates among the most stable in the region; industrial peace, among others.
“We hope that the Philippines’ strong fundamentals, fiscal stamina, and effective governance will continue to make us a promising investment destination and a growing market for Japanese investors,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez said the government remains committed to pursuing legislative approval of the last two packages of the tax reform program, while also considering measures to fairly tax the digital economy.
He added the push for the passage of complementary bills that will open up the country to more direct investments from abroad.
Japan continues to be one of the Philippines’ biggest trading partners and investors. Last year, Japan was the Philippines’ second major trading partner, second export market and second import supplier.
Japan was the country’s fourth major source of approved investments in 2019. (I. Isip and A. Celis)