MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III highlighted potential benefits of the bank liberalization law as he formally welcomed the Manila branch of Japan’s second largest bank.
The President was on hand at the ceremonial opening of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) held at Makati Shangri-La on Monday, January 11. The bank opened its doors in the country in September 2015.
In his speech, Aquino credited SMBC with suggesting legislation that eventually formed the basis for Republic Act (RA) 10641, the law that allowed the full entry of foreign banks into the Philippines.
Aquino noted that while SMBC is the first foreign bank to gain entry under the law, 5 other foreign banks are waiting in the wings.
“Five other banks have already been approved under RA 10641, and while we are hopeful to see more set up shop here – creating stronger linkages to other countries, we will never forget that it was SMBC who, in a sense, began everything,” he said.
Aquino also pointed out that allowing established foreign banks to enter the country could mean more investments, because foreign firms may be more encouraged to invest here if they can work with banks they already trust.
“SMBC’s vote of confidence has an impressive multiplier effect. Just think about the number of companies who will channel millions – if not billions – of pesos through you, in order to lease or purchase facilities, procure equipment, and provide employment to thousands of Filipinos,” he said.
The President also highlighted the key role Japan plays in terms of foreign investment to the country. He noted Japan was the Philippines’ top trading partner in 2015, and was also the top source of IPA-approved foreign investments.
Aquino said that retail in particular may be an emerging sector in Japanese-Philippine trade.
He said he had a meeting last year with the chairman of Fast Retailing, the parent firm of Uniqlo, which has so far established 27 of 200 planned stores in the Philippines.
The meeting, Aquino said, left him with the impression that “they possessed a rather healthy impatience to accelerate their expansion and put up the 173 remaining Uniqlo branches in the soonest possible time.”
The president also pointed out that last October, a 500-man delegation from Japan attended the 17th Asia-Pacific Retailers Conference and Exhibition (APRCE) in Manila – the largest foreign delegation to attend the APRCE. – Rappler.com
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