Investing in Mindanao 'key to unlocking' PH growth
MANILA, Philippines – Investments in manufacturing and its support industries in Mindanao is crucial to the country's over-all economic development, Trade Assistant Secretary Ceferino Rodolfo said recently.
In the open forum of the 4th Strategic Management Convention at the De La Salle University (DLSU) last June 6, Rodolfo urged businessmen to invest in the Philippines' southern island.
Rodolfo cited Mindanao's vast and untapped portions of land that could be developed for commercial and industrial use.
Diverting capital to Mindanao is "key to unlocking our growth," Rodolfo explained. He stressed its importance given the full integration of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic community.
He advised the business-savvy conference attendees to travel to Mindanao cities – particularly Davao, General Santos, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga – to explore business opportunities there.
He said interested investors in Mindanao could venture into the manufacturing industry, where you could "easily scale up your jobs."
Many exporters have their primary operations based in Mindanao, with select Mindanao companies benefitting from the European Union's (EU's) General System of Preferences Plus (GSP+).
The GSP+ grants tariff-related benefits to qualified industries, boosting domestic revenues, generating jobs, and providing Philippine exporting firms an edge over those from other states.
The Philippines, according to the ASEAN Briefing, is the first member-state of ASEAN to be granted GSP+ status.
EU is the Philippines' 4th largest trading partner and 4th largest export market with $11.28 billion in bilateral trade in 2013 alone, the business intelligence news site reported.
Philippine exports to the EU account for 11.56% of the Southeast Asian country's total exports, the report said.
Poverty widespread in Mindanao
Rodolfo has in the past urged greater investment in Northern Mindanao in the area of logistics, an ancillary industry to manufacturing.
During a meeting with business leaders last March 5 in Cagayan de Oro, he expressed confidence that the region is headed toward further advancement in terms of international trade.
He highlighted opportunities in the region for "growth and investment in fields such as agriculture, food processing, service-related industries and trade infrastructure services."
While prospects for growth abound, Mindanao provinces remain to be among the poorest in the Philippines.
Included in the 15 poorest provinces in the country during the first 6 months of 2012 were Lanao del Sur (68.9%), Maguindanao (57.8%), Zamboanga del Norte (50.3%), Davao Oriental (48%), Sarangani (46.5%), North Cotabato (43.9%), Lanao del Norte (42.5%), and Sultan Kudarat (41.6%).
Rodolfo's call for greater investments in Mindanao is in line with one of the primary goals of ASEAN integration, which is equitable growth.
Focused on talks about the readiness of the Philippine business sector for the ASEAN economic community, the 4th Strategic Management Convention was hosted by DLSU and its MBA Alumni Club. – Rappler.com