Philippines-Malaysia Business Forum
With H.E. Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia
7 March 2019; Makati City
As delivered


Ladies and gentlemen, good morning!

We wish to offer our warmest welcome to Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad, the Prime Minister of Malaysia. We are honored by your presence, being one of the foremost leaders and statesmen of the ASEAN Member Nations.

On matters pertaining to ASEAN leadership and geopolitics, your words are gems of wisdom that we highly value. I draw from my personal experience, having heard your valued interventions and sincere ASEAN-centric messages, especially during the recent ASEAN Summit in Singapore last November.

We also highly regard your sincere leadership, of the past and of the present, that steered Malaysia towards its socio-economic greatness, as well as your incessant drive at present towards good governance, and your fight against terrorism, illegal drugs, and criminality — and on this we fondly draw some parallelism with our own President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

May I also take this opportunity to recognize the presence of my counterpart, Minister Datuk Darell Leiking of the Malaysia Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). We were just together during last Saturday’s meeting on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in Cambodia. As you all know, as the chief trade representatives of our countries, both of us are working double time to push for the RCEP agreement to be concluded before this yearend 2019.

PH-MY Trade

I would like to congratulate Malaysia as well for your stellar economic performance last year, with a GDP growth rate of 4.7% for 2018. Both the Philippines and Malaysia are considered economic bright spots in the region, and we’re glad to be one of your major trade and investment partners.

Malaysia has consistently been one of our strong trade partners, being our 10th largest trading partner with a total bilateral trade at US$6B. Malaysia has also been our 11th major export market and 9th top import supplier. In fact, among the Philippines’ top sources of approved foreign investments as noted by our Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs), Malaysia posted the highest growth rate in 2017-2018.

With this increase, Malaysia is now our 5th largest source of approved foreign investments last year, next to China, Singapore, Japan, and British Virgin Islands. Approved foreign investments from Malaysia amounted to Php 15 Billion or $290 Million, which represents 8.2% of total approved investments in 2018.


Presently, Philippine and Malaysian companies have made major trade and investment in-roads in our respective countries. For example, Ayala Land is a majority shareholder in MCT.    Aboitiz Equity Ventures’ food subsidiary, Pilmico International, is now operating in Malaysia after acquiring a majority stake in Gold Coin Management Holdings. Likewise, Jollibee held a grand opening of its milestone store in Malaysia last February 20.

On the other hand, CIMB Bhd. launched CIMB Bank Philippines last January 29 with its flagship branch in Bonifacio Global City. Another Malaysian company, MR. D.I.Y., opened its first store in the Philippines last January 5. And phase 1 of AlloyMTD Philippines’ project—the National Government Administrative Center (NGAC)—in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac—is set to rise on schedule.

There are many other companies with presence in each of our countries, and we seek to develop more business matches with today’s meeting. For example, among our country’s priority sectors for investment promotion is infrastructure development. With these in mind, we hope to engage with MTD Group, Muhibbah Engineering, and Budi Technology, among others, who are present here today.

Meanwhile, many of our Philippine companies can find more opportunities in Malaysia.      Steel Asia, Zuellig, and Sterling Group can benefit from Malaysia’s focus on manufacturing. Meanwhile, San Miguel, Universal Robina, and Zest-O Group can take advantage of their processing of agricultural produce and manufacturing-related services.

Trade Matters

I also foresee potential partnerships and trade opportunities between our two countries. On our end, the Philippines is interested in pushing for agriculture, processing of high-value and value-added products and services, as well as technology and innovation that would address the 4th Industrial Revolution.

There are other trade areas that our two nations can concentrate on, like the Halal industry, the developing Barter Trade in Mindanao, which President Duterte has been encouraging to revive, and BIMP-EAGA.  Given that Malaysia is regarded as a leader for Halal, and how the barter trade can benefit our neighboring towns, I am confident that we can have a fruitful discussion on these matters today.

Just to add: like Malaysia, the Philippines is also working towards implementing major economic reforms.  President Duterte just recently-signed the Rice Tariffication Law, the Ease of Doing Business Law, the Philippine tax reform system, and other legislative measures. This is proof positive that the Philippine government is committed to economic reforms, liberalization, and pushing for greater trade and investment engagements.


Through stronger engagements in trade and investment, we are sure to expand our bilateral trade relations and solidify even further the ties between our two countries. We all look forward to the tremendous mutual gains that our two countries will surely experience, with this historic visit of His Excellency Prime Minister Mahatir.

The business forum this morning is surely a rare opportunity to dialogue directly with the Prime Minister, and so we wish to generate as many learnings, mutual understanding,  and business leads.

Once again, our warmest welcome to our dearest Asean icon Prime Minister Mohamed and also to Minister Leiking.

Your presence definitely manifests the sincere openness and development-orientation of the leadership of Tun Mahatir.

Maraming Salamat po.  Thank you very much and MABUHAY!!!