TOKYO, JAPAN — On 10 February 2023, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) led the Philippine Business Opportunities Forum, which is an integral part of the 5-day Official Visit of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in Japan. The Forum targeted foreign direct investors and portfolio investors from Japan and was attended by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., Trade and Industry Secretary Fred Pascual, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Bangko Sentral Governor Felipe Medalla, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, and Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman.

During his keynote message, DTI Secretary Fred Pascual encouraged Japanese investors and firms to invest in the Philippines and highlighted several initiatives of the government focused on gathering investments in strategic and high impact areas such as manufacturing, infrastructure, services, energy, and agriculture. He also discussed the recent game-changing economic reforms adopted by the country aimed at promoting ease of doing business and providing a favorable business environment where foreign businesses can thrive.

“As we forge commitments in our priority industries, we want to assure foreign investors and businesses that the Philippines will continue to nurture an enabling environment. The Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act offers more attractive and rationalized incentives to foreign investors, including those from Japan. We have also amended our Public Service Act, Foreign Investments Act, and Retail Trade Liberalization Act. The changes ease restrictions on foreign ownership of certain businesses in the country”, he said.

He further emphasized that the Department is working towards facilitating the Philippines’ robust economic growth and expansion. Potential investments from Japan, in turn, will generate higher quality, more stable, and better-paying jobs for Filipinos. Likewise, Secretary Pascual mentioned that the Philippines is in a path towards industrialization driven by science, technology, and innovation (STI). STI enables improved efficiency, new industries, and new goods and services.

Further, he shared that the Philippines aims to penetrate the global electric vehicle (EV) value chain as climate change triggers shifts to renewable sources of energy and the country aims to leverage the opportunities offered by this sector. The Philippines is a rich source of natural resources, one of those are mineral ores that can be used in manufacturing EV batteries.

Likewise, Secretary Pascual highlighted the Philippines’ current efforts to improve digital connectivity and infrastructures in the country that will make business transactions more seamless.

“Integral to catalyzing the growth of investments and businesses, and enhancing ease of doing business, is physical and digital connectivity. In terms of digital infrastructure to promote investments, our government is leading our Digital Cities Program. This aims to set up IT-business process management locators in 31 cities throughout the country by 2025. We are aligning similar efforts towards the digital transformation of government, which should help in robust data systems for programming, efficient service delivery, and more transparency in transactions with the government”, the Trade Chief boasted. Potential investments from Japanese companies are significant in realizing the government’s goal of integrating digitalization in government processes and transactions to efficiently deliver public goods and services.

Aside from his keynote message, Secretary Pascual also participated in the panel discussion together with DPWH Secretary Bonoan, DOT Secretary Frasco, and DOTr Secretary Bautista where he boasted of the Philippines’ strong points and defining features as a country.

“In terms of geographical location, we are looking at the Philippines as a manufacturing hub for the ASEAN region as it is centrally located in the ASEAN. Another important factor is the availability of young, trainable, vibrant workforce, which is a distinct advantage for the Philippines because of our relatively low median age population as compared to other countries. If you are looking for a potential for growth and are into industries that require manpower resources like BPOs and manufacturing, then the Philippines is the place to go”, Secretary Pascual said.

The Philippine government looks forward to maintaining its longstanding bilateral economic and trade relations with Japan that is central to the attainment of the country’s long-term economic goals. The Philippines is set to benefit greatly from Japan’s technological capabilities as various industries continue to develop due to the emergence of new technologies, especially in manufacturing. *

Date of release: 10 February 2023