PH gate­way to 620 mil­lion con­sumers

Manila Bulletin - - Mindanao News - By AN­TO­NIO L. COLINA IV

DAVAO CITY – Trade and In­vest­ment sec­re­tary Ra­mon Lopez un­der­scored the coun­try’s strate­gic lo­ca­tion as gate­way to the com­bined mar­ket pop­u­la­tion of 620 mil­lion in the south­east Asian re­gion as he pitched for the Philip­pines as a po­ten­tial in­vest­ment desti­na­tion to Ja­panese com­pa­nies in Asia.

In his pre­sen­ta­tion be­fore key Ja­panese govern­ment of­fi­cials and se­nior busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives at the Philip­pinesJa­pan Busi­ness Fo­rum at the Wa­ter­front In­su­lar Ho­tel Davao on Fri­day, Lopez said the Philip­pines was headed for an eco­nomic “sweet spot,” con­sid­er­ing that more young Filipino work­ers are now avail­able in the coun­try’s la­bor force.

Aside from be­ing at the cen­ter of the 10-coun­try As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN), Lopez also noted the Philip­pines was also strate­gi­cally closer to world’s ad­vanced economies like China, South Korea, Aus­tralia, New Zealand, In­dia, and Ja­pan.

“The Philip­pines has ex­ist­ing free trade agree­ments (FTAs) with th­ese coun­tries,” Lopez said.

He said prospec­tive in­vestors will en­joy im­mense mar­ket size should they choose to in­vest in the Philip­pines.

“If you sum up the pop­u­la­tion of all those coun­tries in ASEAN, plus six other coun­tries, it is al­ready one-half of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, and it cov­ers 1/3 of the world’s econ­omy,” he said.

The trade of­fi­cial said he be­lieves that the young Filipino pop­u­la­tion will pro­pel the econ­omy of the coun­try which, in ef­fect, will also ben­e­fit the for­eign in­vestors do­ing busi­ness in the Philip­pines.

“If you imag­ine, many of th­ese young pop­u­la­tion are em­pow­ered, ed­u­cated, and with pur­chas­ing power. In ef­fect, you will have a wider base for con­sumers and since they are young, it will take many years for us to en­joy and even grow fur­ther this con­sumer base that we have,” he said.

“On hu­man cap­i­tal, we have a rich pool of tal­ented Filipinos grad­u­ates,” he said.

Cit­ing the 7.1 per­cent gross do­mes­tic prod­uct as of third quar­ter of 2016, Lopez also banked on the coun­try’s strong eco­nomic fun­da­men­tals to draw more for­eign di­rect investments.

“It is the faster grow­ing econ­omy. There is a re­vival of man­u­fac­tur­ing, grow­ing by 8 per­cent , higher than the ser­vice sec­tor, which con­tin­ues to grow by 6.1 per­cent. All the positive in­di­ca­tors - in­fla­tion has been sta­ble, im­prov­ing our rank­ing in the com­pet­i­tive­ness in­dex, busi­ness con­fi­dence and con­sumer con­fi­dence on the rise, and many other positive macroe­co­nomic in­di­ca­tors – have been there,” he said.

Lopez said the fo­rum en­abled in­vestors and busi­ness­men from Ja­pan and Philip­pines to es­tab­lish valu­able net­works and dis­cuss vi­able busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties for a stronger eco­nomic ties.

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