Investment pledges up 156% in Jan.-Feb

Published March 4, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Committed investments approved by the Board of Investments in the first two months this year jumped 156 percent to P121.9 billion (approximately $2.5 billion) vis-a-vis P47.625 million in the same period in 2020, indicating that recovery is within sight. 

This was revealed by Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez at the First Manila Forum for  Philippines-China Relations on the topic   “Joining Hands to Boost the Economic Recovery from COVID-19” organized by the Association for Philippines-China Understanding (APCU), which is co-founded by former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and now serves as its chairperson emeritus. The forum was keynoted by Jin Liqun, president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.  Businessman Jeffrey Ng is APCU president.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez

Lopez said that the high investments registration this year is only one of the many improving economic data for the Philippines. 

For instance, Lopez cited the diminishing declines in gross domestic product in the latter quarters of last year, from a record low of negative 16.5 percent in the second quarter to negative 11.5 percent in the third quarter, and negative 8.3 in the fourth quarter. 

“Growth is seen quarter on quarter as GDP grew by 8 percent from second to third quarter and 5.6 percent  from third to fourth quarter,” he said.

In addition, the  barometer for manufacturing activities or the Purchasing Managers Index in the Philippines likewise, showed a steady rebound in January and February at 52.5 percent. This came from a huge decline at 31.6 last April 2020 at the height of the lock down.

Lopez also said that the start of the vaccination in the country with the arrival of the 600,000 doses of Coronavac vaccine from China will improve business confidence in the country.

“This donation—which the Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian worked hard for, and backed up by no less than Chinese President Xi Jinping—has brought much hope to the Filipino people.

The arrival of the vaccine, and the immediate rollout of the vaccination program the following day certainly brought about heightened optimism in seeing the beginning of the end of COVID-19 pandemic. This definitely lifted the spirits of many Filipinos, and will surely lead to greater business and consumer confidence on the road to recovery,” said Lopez.

Lopez noted of the strong bond of friendship between the two countries. Chinese and Filipino-Chinese businesses, who are referred to as Taipans, are investing in the Philippines.

More recent investments from China in the Philippines include DITO Telecommunity, the country’s incoming major telecom operator. There is also the APF Group Holding Corp., producer of slabs and hot rolled coils in Misamis Oriental, and Florida Blanca Steel Industries, an export producer of steel pipes in Pampanga. Meanwhile, there is the Liangan Power Corp., a renewable energy developer in Lanao del Norte, while Hydrocore is developing the Ibulao Hydroelectric Project in the Ifugao Province. 

There are also millions of Filipino-Chinese businesses in manufacturing and retail in the country, he said.

In terms of trade, China is Philippines country’s top trading partner, 3rd largest export market, and the country’s foremost import supplier. China is also Philippines 2nd top investment partner for 2019, with the same ranking as of January to September 2020. 

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) also reported that during the last three years, project contracts signed by Chinese enterprises in the Philippines increased 27.9 percent annually, with turnover increasing by 18.5 percent annually. In 2019, newly-signed contracts were worth $6.4 billion with a growth of 102 percent. In 2020, newly signed contracts reached $9.59 billion, up 54 percent year-on-year. 

But even with all these business deals, Lopez urged businessmen  there are still a wide range of investment opportunities available in the country that investors can take advantage of presently. These include: manufacturing of e-vehicles, e-bikes, and bicycles; light industries manufacturing for connectivity devices, bags, and textile manufacturing; and Internet of Things (IoT), Smart Manufacturing, and AI; among so many others.