May 23, 2023
MANILA – The Philippines is entering the “golden age” of investments from Europe as the country remains an attractive destination for European businesses.
This, as the government implemented policy reforms such as the amendments to the Foreign Investments Act, Public Service Act, and Retail Trade and Liberalization Act, as well as allowing full foreign ownership for renewable energy projects.
"The Philippines is really starting to enter this golden age of investments coming from European and from other parts of the world," European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) executive director Florian Gottein said in a press conference in Makati City Monday.
Gottein said the ECCP has been a staunch advocate of the policy measures that will help the Philippines attract more foreign direct investments.
Showing the growing interest of European firms in the Philippines, EU-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) executive director Chris Humphrey said one of the biggest European business delegations will be arriving here this week to participate in the 2023 European-Philippines Business Dialogue.
Humphrey said the European delegation will be composed of 36 entities with 70 people.
"I think that just emphasizes the attraction and the importance of the Philippines to European industry... We need to take the Philippines at the center stage," he said.
Humphrey cited the country's strong economic growth, which is one of the fastest in Asia despite its slowdown, its large and young population, and the stability it offers make the Philippines a strategic destination for European businesses.
"The reality on the ground here is much more positive than elsewhere in the region. So if you look somewhere like Indonesia, they're going to have election next year that will cause some instability. Malaysia had big political problems. It's unclear whether the government will survive this full term as well... You go somewhere like Thailand where we just had an election. The future is looking a bit uncertain at the moment. They've also got a very older population," he added.
Vietnam, on the other hand, is showing signs of economic slowdown with its gross domestic product growth easing to 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2023 from 5.05 percent expansion in the first quarter 2022.
"You've got an administration with another five years to go. It's very stable and very progressive. And you've got a great, young, highly intelligent, well-skilled workforce. You have the language skill as well. You just need to make sure you're leveraging on the advances you have now whilst the rest of the region is facing some difficulties," Humphrey said.
ECPP president Lars Wittig said one of the areas that the Philippines needs to further improve is the ease of doing business to get a bigger share of European investments in the region.
"Europe is the largest single investor (in ASEAN), accumulated USD350 billion. Unfortunately, historically, only 4.7 percent of that has been invested directly into the Philippines," Wittig said.
Meanwhile, the ECCP and the EU-ABC will be holding the 10th European-Philippine Business Dialogue on May 25 at Dusit Thani Manila, also in Makati.
Aside from featuring a series of high-level discussions, ECCP's 11 advocacy papers will be launched during the program and will be handed over to the administration. (PNA)