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Direct foreign investments elusive–Aquino

PRESIDENT Aquino on Tuesday acknowledged that the Philippines lagged behind many of its Southeast Asian neighbors in terms of direct foreign investments but said this situation was improving with the entry of Japanese and other foreign banks in the country.

Gracing the opening of the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.’s first Manila branch on Monday night at a Makati City hotel, the President said the country’s difficulties attracting foreign investors were “likely due to the unstable political and economic atmosphere prior to our administration.”

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In his speech, the President said the “good news” was that the country “has gained much more momentum in the past five years. Thanks, in large part, to partners like Sumitomo Mitsui and, indeed, the country of Japan.”

Today, the Philippines has a “much more friendly environment,” he said.

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He noted that trade and investment between Japan and the Philippines was already high. In 2014, Mr. Aquino noted that Japan was the Philippines’ top trading partner, with trade volume at around $19.15 billion.

Japan was “likewise the top source of [investment promotion agency]-approved foreign investments in the same year. We can see concrete evidence of this in the sheer number of Japanese firms that have established themselves in our country,” President Aquino said.

He cited companies like Toyota and Tsuneishi that “already have productive relationships with the Filipino people in endeavors from automobile manufacturing to shipbuilding.”

“Another example is the International Wiring Systems Philippines (WSP), a wiring harness company based in my home province of Tarlac, working under the Sumitomo group. WSP found themselves competing with firms based abroad, who benefited from working under the North American Free Trade Association agreement.”

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