Selling PH to foreign investors easier now — Pascual

Published September 23, 2022, 5:27 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said that selling the Philippines is easier now given the enactment of necessary reforms needed to attract foreign investors into the country to support the goal of shifting from a consumer-led economy to investment-led development.

Pascual, who delivered his keynote during the Panel 2 —Infrastructure and Industry – at the Investors’ Briefing that complements the visit of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s speech at the United Nation General Assembly in New York, said the Board of Investments (BOI) and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) will conduct active solicitation of investments in the US.

“We should be able to do a convincing job in attracting these investors because we have now a story to tell,” said Pascual.

The DTI chief was referring his “story to tell” phrase to the policy reforms that have been adopted during the past few years, starting with the Public Service Act, amendments to the Foreign Investment Act, Retail Trade Act and the Create Act.

“We’ll make full use of these policy reforms,” he said noting that BOI and PEZA have “prepared our essay” as well as the targeted set of very specific industrial clusters under the Strategic Investment Priority Plan (SIPP) that the country needs to attract in order to develop and generate more jobs.

“We have to be choosy, not so much because we have great things to offer although, of course, we want the more of them coming in, but we want the ones that will be attracted to us are those who will see the existing capabilities and competencies already available in the Philippines,” he explained.

Not just the economic reforms are in place, but Pascual said that “things are happening in a coordinated fashion” in the Marcos administration.

As the government’s economic team is trying to shift the country from consumer-based growth to investment led development, he said the SIPP is leveraged on Industry 4.0 technologies and the country’s existing industrial strengths and competencies to build a dynamic industry ecosystem.

In encouraging investments, “We offer tier-specific incentives and consider flexible incentives for qualified investments.”

He noted that US investments for the 1st semester of 2022 have been more diversified compared to the previous year.

Approved US investments are in various sectors, such as information and communication, and manufacturing industries.

“These investments range from essential goods and services, to more advanced activities such as those that fill our industrial value chain gaps, those pursuing research and development (R&D) and innovation-promoting enterprises,” he said.

The US is Philippines top export market and 5th import supplier. Its trade in goods consists of high-technology commodities such as semiconductors, integrated circuits, and wiring harnesses, and others.

Following his meetings with American businesses, Pascual said they are trying to understand what they’re looking for because a number of them have presence already in the country and are looking for further expansion.

Pascual assured American investors that they DTI has taken note of their concerns and feedback, including improving the ease of doing business in the country.

He further noted that DTI 22 trade and investment centers across the world, four of which are located in the US in New York, Washington DC, West Coast and one unfilled post in Chicago.