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Thursday, April 18, 2024

PBBM flies home from Japan, touts $13-B economic bonanza

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PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. was able to secure over US$13 billion worth of contribution and investment pledges following his five-day official visit in Japan.

In his arrival speech last Sunday at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City, Marcos said the commitments are expected to generate an approximate 24,000 jobs.

The deals were a result of the meeting of Marcos and the Philippine delegates with Japanese companies.

“In our round table meetings, I briefed them on the new and better business climate and investment environment in the Philippines,” Marcos said.

“Key private sector representatives were with me and engaged with Japanese industry giants to seize the economic opportunities now present in the Philippines,” he added.

A total of 35 letters of intent (LOI)/agreements were forged between Philippine and Japanese representatives during the said discussions covering manufacturing, infrastructure development, energy, transportation, healthcare, renewable energy, and business expansion.

He said another highlight of his visit was the government’s signing of seven bilateral agreements with its Japanese counterpart covering humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, infrastructure, agriculture, and digital cooperation.

Among those signed were about 377 billion Japanese yen or the equivalent of about US$3 billion loans for the North-South Commuter Railway for Malolos to Tutuban and the North-South Commuter Railway Project extension.

The President also noted he was also able to “cement” the country’s defense and security relations with Japan.

He concluded his trip will help “strengthen the strategic partnership between Philippines and Japan.”

BOI’s tracker: $10M in pledges

Meanwhile, per estimates of a top official of the Board of Investments (BOI), $10 million in investment pledges were secured from President Marcos Jr.’s state visit to Japan.

“If I am not mistaken, our tracking of the investment pledges is—my tracking,  personally, will be about $10 million. So, that would be translated, that would be about P500 billion or P550 billion,” BOI Managing Head Ceferino S. Rodolfo said at a news forum on Saturday.

Citing Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual’s interview in Tokyo, Japan, backed by a survey by Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Rodolfo said one of the primary areas of attraction of Japanese companies to the Philippines is “because they would like us to be their export manufacturing hub.”

Rodolfo also noted that the Japanese, along with South Korean and Taiwanese investors, are expanding outside of big economies such as the United States and a neighboring country of the Philippines which the BOI official did not name.

“But because of that, companies are expanding beyond that big country. Many of those expanding outside of that big country would be the Japanese, the South Koreans and the Taiwanese – the ones in East Asia,” Rodolfo said, partly in Filipino.

Referring to  “southbound policy,” the BOI official said once these countries go south, the first country that they will “hit” is the Philippines. In addition, he said, from the Pacific side, the Philippines will be the first country to be hit by the United States.

This, he said, puts the Philippines in a “very strategic” place. Moreover, Rodolfo said such geographic advantage is coupled with “a real independent foreign policy” that is being promoted by the President.

Rodolfo noted it is evident in the countries that the President has visited that Marcos is not selective with the countries he’s opting to visit as these countries include even those involved in conflicts.

“You can see that he visited even those countries with current conflicts—to really show them the Philippines means serious business—we want to talk to all of you—and it’s generating results,” the BOI managing head, speaking partly in Filipino.

Since assuming the presidency on June 30, 2022, Marcos has gone on eight official foreign trips. He has traveled to Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, United States, China, Belgium and Switzerland, to attend the 2023 World Economic Forum (WEF). He recently traveled to Japan to establish partnerships and attract investments.

Aside from the geographic advantage and the “independent” foreign policy of the Philippines, Rodolfo cited the Philippines’s demographics among the country’s advantages in attracting foreign investments.

“The second reason why we are attracting foreign investments really, particularly Japanese, is our demographics. The median age of Filipinos is about 26 years old,” Rodolfo said, adding that in contrast, “In Japan, I think, is already 48 years old.”

Meanwhile, aside from the export manufacturing hub, Rodolfo said the Japanese investors are looking at the cold chain logistics in the Philippines.

“Besides the export manufacturing hub, Usec. Sam Ampatuan mentioned earlier that logistics, particularly cold chain, is very important for our Agricultural sector. Because even if you are able to produce, even if you become productive at the farm level,  the challenge really is bringing our farm produce to the market, particularly with our archipelagic setup,” Rodolfo said, partly in Filipino.

He said, without naming the companies, thaht “there are Japanese companies interested to go into cold chain logistics in the Philippines.”

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