PH gateway to 620 million consumers
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.