Monday, July 23, 2012

Chance to invest in the Philippines

..Petaling Jaya (The Star/ANN) - Foreign reserves at US$76 billion, $6 billion in foreign direct investments, a budget deficit of just 1 per cent, Asia's second best performing stock market, 6.4 per cent gross domestic product growth for the first three months of 2012, growing exports and the list goes on. It has even committed funds to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s facility to address the debt crisis in Europe. Surprise, surprise - this is the Philippines today. And the striking rise of the republic has certainly astounded the critics. The tributes are certainly pouring in for the once net borrower nation of 98 million people, which is seeing growth accelerating to its highest levels since democracy was restored in 1986. Morgan Stanley recently listed the Philippines as one of the "breakout nations", with Goldman Sachs proclaiming it among the "Next 11" countries. HSBC forecast that the country would be the 16th biggest economy in 2050. Unveiling the latest data on his country's vibrant progress and growth to StarBizWeek, Phillipine ambassador to Malaysia J. Eduardo Malaya says his country had broken free from the shackles of its difficult past. "There are less young Filipinos looking for jobs overseas because of available good ones at home notably in the business processs outsourcing and related sectors. "Our perseverance and hardwork has paid off. We are no longer South-East Asia's consistent underperformer," he said in an interview. Malaya, who was posted here last September, says the economic advancement of the Philippines presented the Malaysian private sector with great opportunities, disclosing that the Government had allocated a record 404.6 billion pesos ($9.6 billion) for infrastructure projects next year. "What we need badly are airports in the remote areas and other tourism support facilities. We also need to address the energy and electricity shortage issue which is severe in Mindanao," he says. The envoy said Tourism Minister Dr Ng Yen Yen's visit to Manila in February had yielded results, with her proposal for joint tourism packages between the two countries to be implemented soon. "We are going to use our strengths to tap into the European and American markets. Kuala Lumpur has good air connections with Europe, while Manila is well-linked with Honolulu, Los Angeles and San Francisco in the United States. "So we are going to draw Europeans and Americans to our countries under joint tourism packages. A joint Kota Kinabalu-Boracay island tour package is to be introduced soon," he reveals. He said AirAsia Philippines, which started this year, was doing very well in the domestic air sector, with AirAsia having daily flights between Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu to Clark Airport in Pampanga. "AirPhilExpress, a sister company of Philippine Airlines, also commenced flights three times a week to KL from June 21 from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to the LCCT in Sepang and back. We are trying to get it to service the route daily," he adds. Malaya said Malaysian firms were already carving a reputation in the Philippines, citing AlloyMTD Group's rehabilitation of the South Luzon Expressway and its current involvement in building nine mini-hydroelectric dams in northern Luzon and a government offices complex in Laguna province. Other notables were CIMB Bank buying into the Philippine Bank of Commerce with investments reaching 1 billion ringgit ($314 million). Genting, after making profits from operating the Resorts World Manila hotel-casino across Manila's international airport, is investing in a second casino complex by the famed Manila Bay (the new "Entertainment City" which aims to rival Macau) to be completed in 2016. "There has been substantial Malaysian business presence in the Philippines since the 90s with the likes of Maybank, Berjaya and other companies. We like to see more Malaysian companies take up the new opportunities that are being presented," he adds. He says the Philippines-Malaysia Investment Partnership Forum held in KL on May 29 was significant as it was successful in drawing sizeable investments in the Philippines infrastructure and other sectors. He says 300 participants, including chief executive officers of leading Malaysian and Philippine companies, attended the forum which featured presentations on investment climate and opportunities in the Philippines and business matching sessions. The 35-member Philippine delegation was led by vice-president Jejomar C. Binay, who was the keynote speaker. Malaya says Binay had a very successful visit, holding discussions with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed. "We exchanged ideas on how to further enhance our economic and investment partnership. It is important that we interact frequently," adds Eduardo, who took pride in Najib's tweet after the meeting: "Fruitful discussions that will hopefully strengthen socio-economic ties." ..