British firms upbeat on PH, seen expanding local operations
Bilateral trade between the Philippines and the United Kingdom is expected to surge by about 30 to 50 percent to well over $2 billion this year, as British firms remained optimistic of their prospects here.
The United Kingdom is also expected to remain the largest European investor in the Philippines this year with its foreign direct investment stock currently at $5 billion, said Iain Mansfield, director of the UK Trade and Investment office in Manila.
The trade growth driver would be the increasing presence of UK firms in the country, lending their services and expertise to the Philippine infrastructure sector, spending for which is being ramped up by the government to meet the requirements of a growing economy.
Add to that would be the rising demand for consumer and lifestyle products from the UK, including vehicles, food and apparel.
According to Mansfield, the Philippines’ inclusion in the European Union’s new generalized scheme of preferences (GSP+), which allows the zero-duty entry of Philippine-made products across 6,200 lines within 10 years, will prop up trade. More companies will also be able to take advantage of this preferential trade scheme.
In the first half of the year alone, bilateral trade between the Philippines and the UK rose by 44 percent. The top product exported by the UK during the period were medicinal and pharmaceutical products, which contributed £17.6 million, followed by industrial machines and equipment (£14.9 million); cars (£9.7 million); and cereal products and preparations (£8.2 million).
As for investments, Mansfield said that three existing British companies were expected to pour in fresh capital in their respective operations, and would each create about 1,000 new jobs in the process. He, however, declined to identify these companies, pending the official announcements of their respective expansion plans.
In the meantime, the month of August saw the launch of Lotus Cars Manila, the authorized distributor of Lotus Cars Group, which is the British maker of the world-class, high performance sports cars.
In July 2015, renewable energy firm Proinso secured a £70 million worth of contracts with various local power distributors for some 110 megawatts of solar energy. The company will be supplying photovoltaic solar products to these distributors.
In May, John Lewis opened the first of its 11 planned stores through a partnership with SM Retail while security company Smiths Detection won a contract to supply 14 advanced people screeners to check passengers for concealed weapons or explosives.
In February, luxury sports car maker Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. announced the appointment of its exclusive importer and distributor in the Philippines.