Friday, December 15, 2017
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Manila summit seeks to boost interest of EU investors in PH

The European business chamber will hold a regional summit this week in a bid to help generate more interest for the Philippines, whose business climate is “losing to other countries” in terms of EU investments in the Asean.

Together with other stakeholders, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) will host the EU-Asean Business Summit this Friday in Manila, bringing in top officials headed by EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

This is the fifth EU-Asean Business Summit since the forum began in 2011 in Indonesia. Traditionally, the country acting as chair of the Asean for the year hosts the regional summit.

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With the Philippines’ turn in the rotating chairmanship, the country would be in the spotlight for interested EU firms looking for a country to establish in or expand their Asean operations to, said ECCP President Guenter Taus.

“The exposure we get with hosting the Asean this year and hosting this summit is a worldwide push for the Philippines to say we are here and that we are aligned with other Asean countries and we are aligned with Europe,” he told the Inquirer Monday.

Taus said the summit, which is expecting around 400 attendees in the private and public sectors, would increase the chances that the Philippines would be chosen for potential EU foreign direct investments (FDIs). This will be a welcome change, especially since the country receives one of the smallest shares of EU investments in the Asean.

Out of the 184 billion euros in FDIs to the Asean in 2014, only 4 percent or 6.66 billion euros went to the Philippines. This was very small compared with Singapore’s 102.91 billion euros.

“We should increase foreign direct investments from EU because we’re losing to other countries for a variety of reasons. That’s one of the main aspects why we set this summit. It would put the Philippines back on the map again,” Taus said.

While there were many factors why the Philippines lagged behind its Asean peers, Taus cited the current political uncertainty as well as problems in the supply chain as among the main reasons.

Although the issue on politics was still far from resolved, Taus noted that there was now a “serious push” to help develop the small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country, echoing one of the priorities of the Department of Trade and Industry led by Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.

He said that the focus on SMEs would help address the problem in the supply chain as more firms would be encouraged to explore manufacturing.

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“This is now the first time that there is a serious push in promoting and trying to encourage small- and medium-sized enterprises to become larger and to move into the Philippines and do a little bit of background integration,” he said.

The ECCP, EU-ASEAN Business Council (EABC) and ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC) are hosting the EU-ASEAN Business Summit.

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