By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT
Germans only hear about human rights and drugs issues of the Philippines country but not the positive reforms the Duterte government has undertaken, according to the lady German ambassador to the Philippines.
“There is not much knowledge of PH in Germany but human rights and drugs. This is important but not everything. It is important to increase knowledge and what are the efforts and reforms being undertaken,” said German Ambassador to the Philippines Anke Reiffenstuel during a panel discussion at the Philippines-Germany Business Relations meeting in Makati.
The lady ambassador stressed the need for the Philippines to counter its image in Germany by conducting more awareness campaigns about the efforts and positive reforms undertaken by the government.
So far, the ambassador said there is more room for improvement.
In an earlier speech, the ambassador noted that while majority of German investors in the country expect to grow their business and hire more workers in the next 12 months, the ambassador cited challenges in the horizon.
These concerns raised by German firms include the ongoing debate on tax on corporations and the tax incentive system for investors under the still pending CITIRA bill.
In addition, she also cited the ongoing debate on the government’s decision to review its contracts with the two water concessionaires in Metro Manila.
The recent 2019 AHK World Business Outlook survey noted German companies’ bullishness regarding the Philippine market despite global uncertainties and local policy adjustments. The study pointed out that more than 70 percent of respondents saw their current business situation in the Philippines as “good,” an increase of 6 percent from the previous year.
Almost two-thirds of German firms in the country anticipate growing business opportunities business expectations in the next 12 months.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, who was also a panelist, responded by saying the Philippines will just have to increase its presence in Germany by having more trade and investment roadshows to inform German citizens of the positive narratives, opportunities and advantages in this part of the world. He noted that he himself visited Germany in 2017 yet.
Germany has been one of our important trading partners in Europe over the years and continues to be our top source of investments.
For the period of January to November Germany was Philippines 8th top trading partner, being the country’s biggest European export market with $2.5 billion.
Top Philippine exports to Germany include electronic components and semiconductors and agricultural products such as tuna and coconut. Germany was also the Philippines top import source from Europe with $2.5 billion. Balance of trade during this period amounted to $4.97 billion in favor of the Philippines.
Philippine products for promotion to Germany range from electronics to processed and specialty food, as well as IT services and BPM sector.
In terms of investments, Lopez said that approved investments from Germany for the period of January to September 2019 amounted to $331 million. This pushed Germany up to 9th rank from 18th within the same period in 2018, or $7.5 million.