TOKYO – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) together with the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) in Tokyo organized a business forum on 12 March 2019 with high level representatives of select Japanese companies to discuss expansion intentions as well as ongoing economic reforms in the Philippines (PH). DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez led the discussion and highlighted PH’s top trade products, investment performance, and industry growth drivers.

The Philippines has good sources of growth. It’s now investment-led and focuses more on capital formation and government expenditure. This is really the best time to join our country’s growth story,” Sec. Lopez told the business executives who attended the forum.

The trade chief took the opportunity to share key features of several economic reforms of the Duterte administration. His discussion covered the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and Higher Quality Opportunities (TRABAHO) Bill, amending the Retail Trade Liberalization law, the Foreign Investment Negative List, the amendments in the Corporation Code, and the ongoing negotiation to improve the PH-Japan Free Trade Agreement.

He further said that DTI– together with the Board of Investments (BOI)– is committed to meeting with investors, providing them with accurate information on the ongoing reforms of the government, and encouraging them to locate and expand their businesses in the country. This would provide more jobs and opportunities for Filipinos, he added.

Sumitomo Corporation’s Ryota Yoshimura conveyed the expansion plans of First Philippine Industrial Park as it sees an increase in demand from the industrial park tenants.

Itochu Corporation General Manager Jumpei Kakinuma inquired on the ongoing negotiations in the tariff rates of banana and other PH agricultural products entering the Japanese market. Sec. Lopez provided updates on DTI-initiated talks on tariff on bananas, which will be taken up during the discussion on the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA). The company operates Dole Food Company which exports PH bananas to Japan. He also expressed their company’s interest in PH’s infrastructure industry.

NIDEC Corporation First Vice President Go Watanabe conveyed their company’s interest to establish an Automation Team in PH that will be in charge in the mass production of devices for robots.

Meanwhile, DTI Undersecretary Rowel Barba provided updates on the ongoing reforms to address issues of companies in ports and shipping cost. He assured them that the government is working on sustainable solutions to facilitate ease in doing business in the country.

Isetan Mitsukoshi Senior Managing Executive Officer Takuya Matsuo expressed optimism in the growing domestic market in PH and said they are eyeing expansion in the country. Mr. Matsuo said that they plan to open a Japanese retail concept mall in PH. Sec. Lopez said this plan will be beneficial for Filipino and Japanese small and medium enterprises.

Nomura Managing Executive Officer Masaomi Katayama expressed their interest in expanding the company’s real estate development operations in PH. Nomura is partnering with Isetan Mitsukoshi that will build Mitsukoshi malls in the country. According to Mr. Katayama, they are currently looking for possible sites in Cebu or Davao that will offer 1,400 housing units as well as 30,000 retail spaces.

Tescom Denki Chief Executive Officer Toshiya Kasuno acknowledged the labor force quality as well as the growing market for beauty care products in PH. The company executive conveyed their plan to establish a manufacturing facility for beauty care products and appliances.♦

Date of Release: 15 March 2019