Europe-PH News

Business Is Doing Well In PHL, Top FCC Execs Say

September 16, 2012

Recto Mercene

Europe-PH News

How’s business? That’s our stock question to some of the members of the Foreign Chambers of Commerce (FCC) during their 9th annual Networking Night at the Marriott Hotel on Friday evening, where top business executives of the country came to socialize and to let the public know who they are.
The group also gathered to show its support to the seven highly successful businesses in the country, such as agriculture, creative industries, manufacturing and logistics, infrastructure, mining, tourism and business process outsourcing (BPO).
The executives were mostly optimistic in their assessment of how the country treats its business sector. But they also expressed their honest opinion, guardedly, on how to address some of the problems to make the Philippines a more attractive place for investors.
Roger Dimmell, first vice president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, says business is doing very well, and that the government is supportive of them.
“This is an indication of the competitiveness scale, where the Philippines came 10 points lower, which is good and is an indication that things are moving in the right direction.”
However, he warns that the appreciation of the peso may not be favorable to overseas Filipino workers and to, a certain extent, to all exporters.
“So although it’s an indication of worldwide belief in the Philippines, potentially it can have negative consequences if it appreciates too much and may affect trade flows, and all of us would be affected.”
Dimmell says that, generally, President Aquino is doing the right thing, but pointed out the “structural problem” in the Philippines, not only in the national government, but all the way down to the barangay level. 
Clarifying the structural problem he mentions, Dimmell says that it is unfortunate that one-term residents tend to be focused on the end of their term, (while) too many others are focused on when that term ends.
He would not say it, but he seems to compare the advantages of the parliamentary system over the presidential system that the Philippines had adopted.
“So, to me, that is a dysfunction of this current setup. I know there are reasons for it, but, for example, in Canada we have no term on how many years a person can be prime minister.”
In the Canadian system, he said, if the electorate is not pleased with elected officials, like the prime minister, “we kick him out in the next election and then, usually the party doesn’t like that, so they all kick him out as the leader of the party because he didn’t win.”
He was not the first to say it, but Dimmel repeats the oft-quoted statement that six years is too short for a good president and too long for a bad one.
Angelica Pettersson, executive director of the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines says they want to promote the message that the business community wants  the Philippines to move forward.
She says creating a business environment that is transparent, accountable and with a level playing field is good for everybody and good for moving the economy forward.
“We’re feeling positive, the Aquino government is expressing, showing the right direction,” she said, adding that daang matuwid (the administration’s the straight path motto) resonates with their members.
“We’re happy to hear that, were happy to be here partners toward a bright future for the Philippines.”
“Business is fantastic as more investors are coming in every month because of tremendous business opportunities,” gushes Don Felbaum, managing director of Optel and member of the American Chamber of Commerce. 
He said the Philippines continues to provide excellent platform for foreign companies here.
“Of course, we have a negative list and we’re trying to introduce new legislation to permit those negative lists or items to loosen up, among are retail and land acquisition which is still tightly controlled, including mining and the broadcast media.”
He said these areas are of keen interest to the foreign community to invest in, provided that Philippine laws are observed.
On the other hand, Eduardo Penenito unit, assistant vice president of Aboitizland, a company that manages and provides industrial sites, says they are seeing confidence in this sector, especially for local market.
However, he says that power is very expensive in the Philippines, second only to Japan.
He said he does not know what are the administration’s plan to solve the power problem, but noted that, definitely, there would be power shortages in the next few years especially in the Visayas.
He said power shortages is now a reality in Mindanao, which should be addressed immediately.
Wells Fargo Managing Director David Caldwell oversees his company’s local BPO here, saying that he sees nothing wrong with the business community. 
“We’re very happy with the talent and potentials here I think we’re on track. I can’t say there’s anything wrong at the moment.” 
Caldwell says they choose the Philippines because of the talent pool and “good English speaking professionals.”
He agrees that BPO is very strong in the Philippines because of its good location relative to the US, the affinity to the US business, and the employees ability to provide the right service. “The empathy for the customer is excellent.”
Formerly a columnist for the Business Mirror, Michael Raeuber, president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, says they want to help the Philippines regain its Category 1 status in aviation.
However, he said the process to get it back is a long one, based on verifiable performance. 
“As soon as the Philippines is ready and can assure the international community on the safety borne by their own procedures, I believe that the European ban in Category 2 will be lifted, but how, when that happens, we can only speculate.”
He said it is desirable to come out of the Category 2 rating because of the growing aviation industry.
“You have Cebu Pacific, which is a very successful company; you have rejuvenated Philippine Airlines; they are buying planes, very modern planes; and you need the international market,” he said.
Source: Business Mirror; News; 16 September 2012
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