MANILA, Philippines – "Today, I tell you: there is no better time to set up shop in the country."
Such was the invitation extended by President Benigno Aquino III to Japanese businessmen at a forum on Thursday, June 4, in Tokyo, Japan, where he is on a state visit.
Speaking at the Philippine Investment Forum at the New Otani Hotel, Aquino said now is the time to invest in the Philippines, considering the significant strides his administration has taken on the economic front.
“The Philippines as an investment destination is more attractive today than at any other point in our history. We can further deepen, or forge partnerships in which all parties benefit. Our government’s track record speaks for itself, as well as our sustained commitment to moving this forward,” he said.
Comparing it to the Japanese philosophy of “kaizen,” which means “continuous improvement” or “change for the better,” Aquino said his administration is determined to reach its goal of turning the Philippines into a strong and competitive player in the global economy.
He thanked Japan for being one of the Philippines’ consistent trade partners regardless of the global economic situation, with two-way trade amounting to $19.1 billion in 2014, making it the country's largest trading partner. Japan is also consistent top source of approved investments in the Philippines.
Aquino pointed out that those who have already established a corporate presence in the Philippines can attest to the caliber of the Filipino worker and “to the fact that kaizen seems to be inherent to my countrymen, and that they will do everything in their power to ensure that you succeed.”
He enticed the investors to explore new ways to spur each other’s success and to jointly improve collective fortunes.
Aquino also said that while the information technology/business process management (BPM) sector yields at least $18 billion in revenues, he was hopeful that investors would tap into the other skills of his countrymen.
He noted that Filipinos are quickly demonstrating their ability to excel in more specialized areas, particularly in legal transcription, accounting, and engineering services.
Aquino said that he looks forward to Japanese participation in Philippine game development. “Game development is another area we are looking to develop – and I am certain that Japanese creativity, innovation, and technological prowess can help us to maximize this sector.”
Aquino also vowed to empower Filipino micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), adding that they have been given improved access credit, learning programs, and facilities.
He also cited the country’s first Fabrication Laboratory Shared Services Facility (FabLab SSF) through the assistance of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which will directly benefit 135 MSMEs in Bohol. It is under the guidance and mentorship of Japan's Keio University.
Photo by Gil Nartea / Malacau00f1ang Photo Bureau
On the third day of his state visit, Aquino witnessed the signing of letters of intent between the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and several Japanese companies that plan to invest or expand their businesses in the Philippines.
Among them is Bemac Uzushio Electric Company Limited, the first company to set up production of electric tricycles in the country. Its P300-million ($6.69-million) facility produces 1,000 units each year.
It is planning to develop, manufacture, and sell 4-wheeled electric vehicles by middle of next year with an investment of P100 million ($2.23-million), in a bid to make the country its electric vehicle manufacturing hub.
Brothers Industries Limited also signed a letter of intent with PEZA for the manufacture of printer-related products and components. It plans to invest P5.8 billion ($129.32 million) over 5 years and eyes the employment of 5,500 Filipino workers.
Canon Incorporated plans to manufacture a new product with an average export sales volume of 1.3 million pieces, valued at $133 million per year. Canon has 3,000 workers in the Philippines.
Funai Electric Company Limited, which manufactures printers and digital media products, also plans to expand its operations in Lipa City, Batangas with an investment of $30 million.
Seiko Epson Corporation plans to step up its Philippine operations by building a $160.6-million facility in Batangas in 2017, which will produce inkjet printers and projector smart glasses. It also plans to grow its total labor pool in the country to as much as 20,000.
Arkray Incorporated, engaged in in-vitro diagnostics and research, development, manufacture, service, and distribution of in-vitro diagnostic products, also signified its intention to invest P300 million ($6.68 million) in the Philippines by 2016, and P100 million ($2.23 million) by 2018.
Biotech Japan Corporation also decided to invest P150 million ($3.34 million) in a food production facility next year, and hopes to benefit Filipino farmers, dietitians, and nutritionists through technology transfer.
Japan's JMS intends to invest $38.5 million in a manufacturing factory, and to sell medical devices for infusions and transfusion therapy and hemodialysis treatment in 2016. The company also expects to hire 500 workers over a 5-year period starting 2016.
Terumo, a Japanese company engaged in manufacturing medical devices, is planning to enhance its production facility in the country by focusing more on high-performance product lines.
Tokai Medical Products has begun construction of its ¥400-million facility in the Philippines in the first quarter of 2015. It is seen to become a global platform for manufacturing aortic catheters and intra-aortic occlusion catheters for heart patients in Japan and the US. It will also ramp up research and development programs that will help pediatric cardiac medicine.
Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Company Limited, meanwhile, expressed its intention to expand its Philippine operations to make it the company’s ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) mother shipyard and shipbuilding hub in Asia. Tsuneishi already invested more than $600 million and has employed 13,000 people since it began operations in 1994. – Rappler.com