SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
Speaker Ferdinand G. Romualdez was informed Tuesday afternoon by representatives from the biggest-ever business delegation from European Union (EU) businesses that the Philippines is the most attractive investment destination in the world, especially for their group.
During their meeting with Speaker Romualdez, six representatives from visiting EU-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) composed of a total of 70 delegates from 36 European multinational companies expressed their interest to expand EU business and trade relations with the Philippines, as they spoke glowingly about the country’s strong economic performance.
The Speaker welcomed the effort of the EU-ABC as he also informed them of the initiatives of Congress, in line with the policies of the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to “make the Philippines a more inviting host for business investments and economic activities.”
“We’re here to see how can help. We would like to support, we would like to assist. We’d like to be aware of the challenges so we could address them together,” Speaker Romualdez assured the EU delegation representatives.
Noel Clehane, Global Head of Regulatory & Public Policy for BDO and Board Member of EU-ABC, informed Speaker Romualdez that they have been engaging with EU lawmakers to push for a free trade agreement with the Philippines, among others.
“We have been highlighting to them that this region (ASEAN), particularly the Philippines, is the most attractive in the world for European businesses,” said Clehane.
He said their excitement about business prospects in the Philippines is borne by an annual survey that they have been doing for the past eight years. As a result, he said EU lawmakers are now “becoming more alert” to exploring expanded trade relations with the Philippines.
Delegation head, Jens Ruebbert (Managing Director & Regional Head Asia/Pacific for Landesbank Baden-Wurttemberg and Vice Chairman of the EU-ABC), also noted the strong growth and solid economic fundamentals of the Philippines.
The Philippine Gross Domestic Product (GDP) posted a growth of 7.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022, resulting in a 7.6 percent full-year growth in 2022, and has grown by 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2023.
“That’s extremely well recognized in the business world,” Ruebbert pointed out.
He also noted that inflation is on the downtrend, the peso is stable as opposed to currencies in other countries, while the interest rate environment is “an equation of what’s going on in the world.”
“Probably the highest hike in the region has helped you to sustain and get things under control. So big congratulations for the economic situation, which is I think the basis for motivating European Union and other foreign companies to further invest and further extend trade with the Philippines,” he added.
Ruebbert also noted that in a separate meeting Monday with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Gov. Felipe Medialla, the latter has “demonstrated very nicely and clearly that the economic path and recovery path the Philippines is taking is all on a very, very good track,”
“Forty percent of the world supply chain pass through your territorial waters or at least close to it. So the geopolitical reasons for doing it (EU-PH free trade agreement) are significant; the economic reason are compelling,” Ruebbert pointed out.
Other members of the six-man EU-ABC group that met with Speaker Romualdez include Diana Edralin, General Manager, Roche Philippines; Dom Lavigne, Yara International Director of Public Affairs and Corporate Communications - Africa & Asia; Charlie Simpson, Airbus Chief Representative to the Philippines; and Cyrus Isles of Bayer.
Among others, they expressed willingness to cooperate with the Philippine government on various areas such as health, agriculture, renewable energy, and transportation.
The EU-ABC mission seeks to follow through on the gains achieved in the successful visit of Pres. Marcos, Jr. to Brussels in December last year and highlight the importance of the Philippines as a trade and investment destination for European Industry. (END)