Two European companies canceled their plans to invest and expand operations in the Philippines amid the policy uncertainty caused by President Rodrigo Duterte’s tirades against the European Union.
European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines executive director Florian Gottein said the two investors were among the European companies now looking elsewhere to build their projects.
“One company now is redirecting investments to Vietnam. They were thinking of doubling their investments here. Another company has put on hold their investments,” Gottein said in a briefing to announce the Asean-EU Business Summit in March 2017.
Gottein said the projects of the two companies would have generated 4,000 to 5,000 new jobs in the information technology and manufacturing sectors.
He said the series of statements of President Duterte directed against the EU had affected the business plans of European companies. Duterte earlier cursed at the EU, along with the US and the United Nations for criticizing his bloody campaign against illegal drugs.
Gottein said ECCP was now trying to work closely with Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and other members of the government’s economic team to discuss the concerns of European businessmen and how to align the interests of both parties.
Gottein said the EU’s initiatives catered to the overarching goal of inclusiveness and the 10-point agenda.
EU Ambassador Franz Jessen said trade and investment relations between Asean and the EU reached 208 billion euros in 2016. EU imports from Asean doubled since 2009 and EU-Asean trade in services in 2015 amounted to 79.6 billion euros, or three times the figure a decade ago.
EU was the largest source of foreign direct investment in Asean with 23.3 billion euros in 2015, up 57 percent from 2014.
The 2017 Asean-EU Business Summit will be held on March 19 at Conrad Hotel in Pasay City.
While European companies were wary in the Philippines, several Japanese firms in real estate, agriculture, healthcare and medical equipment expressed interests to do business in the Philippines to take advantage of its robust economy.
Security Bank Corp. president and chief executive Alfonso Salcedo said in a news briefing in Makati City the first joint business matching fair conducted with Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. resulted in 200 meetings between the two banks’ Japanese, Philippine and Southeast Asian corporate clients.
“It is a milestone for us especially after we became partners in April 2016. It is a testament to a very fruitful tie-up with MUFG,” Salcedo said.
“Security Bank is much stronger now after the investment of MUFG last year and we can pursue and be part of infrastructure projects in the country, especially infrastructure is one of the cornerstones of the present administration,” Salcedo said.
Salcedo said the partnership with MUFG would help facilitate cooperation and provide access to the global marketplace for Security Bank.
The matching fair saw clients from distribution and manufacturing, healthcare and medical equipment, real estate development, agriculture and seafood products.
MUFG Manila branch general manager Tadahiro Miyamoto said the Philippine market was a very important market for them and the alliance with Security Bank would help them reach out to local corporates and support Japanese investments in the country.
MUFG also conducted several business matching events in neighboring countries such as Indonesia and Thailand.
Miyamoto said a lot of Japanese firms were looking at the Philippine market, with its robust domestic demand and several infrastructure projects on the pipeline where Japanese technologies, known in the world as one of the best, could be applied.
Salcedo said these business matchings were timely because the relationship between the two countries was at its best. He noted the recent visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Davao City, where he met President Rodrigo Duterte and discussed several areas of cooperation that could be forged, including trade and investments.
MUFG invested P37 billion in Security Bank equity last year, making it the largest investment by a foreign financial institution in the country in 2016.