US firms bullish on PH, ASEAN prospects

Rappler.com
The Philippines' business climate shows the most improvement

MANILA, Philippines – US firms are highly optimistic about business prospects in the Philippines and the rest of ASEAN countries, according to a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (Amcham).

Seventy-nine percent of nearly 500 senior executives from US companies operating across ASEAN said their companies’ level of trade and investment in the region increased over the past 2 years, and 91% said they expect this to increase over the next 5 years.

The most preferred countries for expansion are:

  • Indonesia (49%)
  • Vietnam (43%)
  • Thailand (40%)
  • Myanmar (39%)
  • Philippines (29%)

While the Philippines may not be the top destination for American firms, respondents took note of the improved business climate in the country.

“Another highlight in the region is the marked improvement of the Philippines. The country has experienced high levels of growth recently and our survey shows why, as business leaders there indicate higher levels of satisfaction across almost all surveyed factors as compared to 5 years ago,” the report said.

The survey was conducted May 10 to June 10, 2013. It polled 475 senior executives from 10 ASEAN countries.

Less are concerned about corruption

Satisfaction in the Philippines increased over the last 5 years in 14 of 16 business factors cited in the survey.

Sixty-two percent of respondents said they are satisfied with the country’s “stable government and political system.” The Amcham report said this is a “50%” increase from 5 years ago.

Some of the other factors are as follows:

  • Availability of trained personnel, 87% are satisfied – highest percentage in ASEAN
  • Sentiment toward the US, 79% – highest in ASEAN
  • Availability of low-cost labor, 74%
  • Personal security, 56%
  • Housing costs, 56%

 

On the other hand, US firms’ main concerns in the Philippines remain to be:

  • Corruption (59%) 
  • Tax structure (56%) 
  • Infrastructure (54%)
  • Laws and regulations (46%)
  • Ease of moving products through customs (44%)

The percentage of those who still consider corruption as one of their biggest concerns however fell markedly from 84% in 2008.

BIR, Customs disappoint

When it comes to government agencies, 67% said they are satisfied with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and 53%, with the Finance department.

US businessmen are most dissatisfied with the Customs and Internal Revenue bureaus, at 53% and 49%, respectively. – with a report from Cherrie Regalado, Rappler.com

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