‘Japan desks’ in PH lure Japanese SMEs
SMALL and medium enterprises in Japan often include the Philippines as a business expansion site with the growing presence of Japanese-speaking staff in some Philippine banks.
BDO Unibank, the country’s biggest bank to date, is one of the local banks that has a dedicated Japan Desk to serve its Japanese clientele. Commonly referred to as “Japan Desk,” the unit is composed of personnel fluent in the Japanese language and also well-attuned with the Japanese culture.
“Japanese investors become more comfortable when they talk with someone who are fluent in Japanese and also familiar with the Japanese culture. This is a big attraction for Japanese SMEs to come here in the Philippines to invest,” said Shinji Ayuha, advisor, Finance Office for SMEs, Industry Finance Group of Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).
“That’s why a lot of Japanese SMEs want to transact with BDO, because they have a Japan Desk. Aside from opening an account, they are also interested in availing of other products and services of BDO,” he said.
A survey conducted by JBIC in 2016 showed that the Philippines remained among the top investment destinations by Japanese firms, naming the country as the eighth most promising country/region for overseas operations over the medium term.
In 2013, BDO and JBIC signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a framework that would potentially support the banking needs of Japanese enterprises eyeing the Philippines as a business destination. The MOU forms part of JBIC’s agenda, through the Japanese regional financial institutions, to back Japanese mid-tier companies and SMEs hoping to expand in the region.
The BDO Japan Desk under the agreement will be actively utilized to support the expansion of business operations in the Philippines by Japanese SMEs.