By Emmie V. Abadilla
The Philippines is becoming a preferred investment destination for China in Asia.
The country’s 2019 ranking on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Index jumped up by six notches to 44th place from last year, citing improvements in institutional effectiveness and market accessibility.
Institutional effectiveness metrics include areas such as regulatory quality and government effectiveness, while market accessibility pertains to foreign direct investment (FDI) and FDI inward flows and stock.
This was according to the report, “New Frontiers: Prospects for Real Estate Along the BRI”, which real estate advisory firm, Santos Knight Frank, yesterday unveiled.
China was the fourth largest source of FDI to the country after Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.
Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas registered nearly USD200 million in net FDI from China last year, seven times the amount in 2017.
Significantly, the Philippines’ improved relationship with China has resulted in greater investment commitments in infrastructure.
Major infrastructure deals signed with China include the Manila-Bicol railway project (USD270 million) with China Railway Engineering and the Davao land reclamation project (USD200 million) with China Communications Construction.
Santos Knight Frank believes that the country can clinch more infrastructure deals in the second half of the administration’s term.
In addition, Chinese companies are either initiating or expanding their presence in key sectors such as residential property, logistics, tourism and industrial.
Inbound tourism from China has already risen by almost 30% in 2018 and was the second biggest international market of the Philippines, accounting for 17.6% of arrivals last year.
“The Philippines is increasingly becoming a much-sought after destination for Chinese capital,” Rick Santos, Chairman & CEO, Santos Knight Frank, reiterated.
“Improvements in accessibility and infrastructure are key to drive growth in the provincial areas and sustain the country’s economic growth.”
In Southeast Asia, Chinese entities have more than tripled their investments in the transport, real estate and logistics sectors, from USD17.1 billion between 2009 and 2013 to USD59.25 billion from 2014 to 2018.
Bolstered by investments under the BRI banner, interest from cross-border real estate investors to Southeast Asia’s industrial sector increased in tandem, from USD330 million between 2009 and 2015 to a peak of USD1.4 billion in 2017 – 72% market share of total industrial investments – the report states.
“The BRI is having an impact on the industrial and logistics sector in Southeast Asia, as new infrastructure fuels growth prospects across the sectors,” noted Nicholas Holt, Head of Research, Knight Frank Asia Pacific.
“With increasing demand from domestic and international occupiers, rental growth has strengthened in most markets, which in turn has attracted cross-border investors. These large volumes of capital investment have driven both rapid development and gentrification of older stock.”