Italian businesses vow to prioritize PH among ASEAN nations

Published February 5, 2021, 1:13 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

 Italian businessmen have committed to prioritize the Philippines for their expansion programs in the ASEAN region.

Enrico Letta, President of Associazione Italia-ASEAN said during the recent “Italy-Philippines: Discovering the Opportunities” webinar, co-organized by the Italian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ICCPI) and Associazione Italia-ASEAN that Italian companies that intend to expand in the ASEAN region are making the Philippines its top priority destination.

The said webinar was aimed at strengthening relations and bridge opportunities between Italy and the Philippines. 

For its part, Board of Investments (BOI) Officer-in-Charge Director Lanie Dormiendo expressed the agency’s appreciation for Italian business community’s vote of confidence during the webinar saying the country continues to improve its business climate through strategic policy reforms to make it easier for investors to do business and further encourage the flow of foreign direct investments into the Philippines. 

Dormiendo cited sectoral opportunities for Italian investors, focusing on garments and textiles, specifically for natural fibers. For garments, there are also opportunities in sustainable clothing, cutting edge designed high performing garments, using smart materials out of natural fibers such as abaca and pineapple.   

She cited the Department of Trade and Industry’s strategies such as the REBUILD Strategy and 3Ps (Policies, Projects & Programs, Promotion) for further industry developments that would complement Italy’s industries such as garments.

The Philippines has also launched the “Make It Happen (MIH) in the Philippines” branding campaign, highlighting the strength and adaptability of the Philippines to weather through challenges, exuding strength and adaptability even in times of difficulties.

Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Giorgio Guglielmino highlighted the importance of commercial interchange between the countries at the event. In turn, Philippine Ambassador to Italy Domingo Nolasco also mentioned other sectors that could be interest to Italian companies such as infrastructure, aerospace, renewable energy, and machineries. 

Among the notable investments of Italian businessmen in the country are in the retail and property development markets. These include the P111 million investment of of Fendi in the business of selling leather goods, accessories and clothing, Stefano Ricci S.p.A’s P251 million in the retail of high-end/luxury goods and accessories, Novabala JV Corp.’s P486 million project as a new services provider of design and construction of Novaliches-Balara Aqueduct 4 and La Mesa Reservation in Quezon City and the P71 million project of Italpinas Development Corp. as a new developer of low-cost housing in Cagayan de Oro City. 

Italy is considered as an important contributor of foreign investments from the European Union to the Philippines. In 2020, investment promotion agencies approved Italian investments totaled to P114.7 million. Total investments of Italy since 2015 amounted to P1.32 billion as of last year. 

Preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the Philippines imported $584.3 million worth of goods from Italy and exported nearly $200 million last year.  Bilateral trade between the Philippines and EU reached $13 billion in 2020, reflecting $6.8 billion worth of exports and $6.2 billion in imports.