Malaysian investors bullish in investing in PH

PASAY CITY—At the sidelines of the Philippine (PH) hosting of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings on 8 September, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez convened a bilateral meeting with his Malaysian counterpart, Minister for International Trade and Industry Y.B. Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed.

Sec Ramon Lopez and Mustapa Mohamed
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez with MY Minister for International Trade and Industry Y.B. Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed.

The Philippines (PH) and Malaysia (MY) discussed various measures to enhance trade and investment relations including regional economic integration.

MY requested PH participation/support in its ASEAN internship program as a way to improve people-to-people interaction among college students. Under this program, interns will have the opportunity to gain experience in an ASEAN company.

PH, meanwhile, sought MY’s support in the development of the Halal industry through various capacity building initiatives, including trainings and internship. PH also followed up on the proposed cooperation in palm oil, given that this can be instrumental in developing key areas in Mindanao. MY indicated that it is working very closely with Indonesia in addressing the various issues facing the industry, including the environmental lobby in the EU and taxes.

PH requested MY to participate in the business matching activities for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as part of the activities for PH chairmanship.

MY underscored the need for a united ASEAN in moving forward with Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

In parallel development, MY investors remain bullish on pouring in more significant investments in the PH given the country’s robust economy buoyed by heavy spending in infrastructure projects, expanding market with a large young population and growing middle class, and the administration’s firm resolve to further ease the cost of doing business in the country and manage the peace and order situation in Mindanao.

A proof of such confidence was the recent (6 September) launching of the Malaysia Chamber of Commerce Inc. (MCCI) in Manila. Led by Malaysian Minister for International Trade and Industry Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, MCCI serves as MY’s business network group in PH, advancing the concerns and interests of the growing MY investors in PH.

Sec. Lopez, who also serves as the Board of Investments (BOI) Chairman, is pleased with the vote of confidence of MY businessmen in PH.

“During President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Malaysia in November 2016, Malaysian business leaders expressed confidence in the many investment opportunities in the Philippines,” said Sec. Lopez, adding that these businessmen expressed interest in investing in infrastructure, mass transportation development, building of regional centers, joint ventures in agribusiness, halal-certified products, and high value postharvest processing facilities.

“Malaysia has always seen the Philippines, particularly Mindanao, as an investment destination of choice because we are neighbors, and we share almost the same culture,” he added.

Meanwhile, MCCI President Edward Ling said that MY companies are keen on investing in PH particularly in the sectors of information technology, construction, energy, manufacturing, and retail.

“We are very encouraged by the seriousness of the administration in addressing the concerns of both the current and potential investors in doing business in the country. We will relay this to our Malaysian investors for them to pursue more investment missions in the Philippines,” he said.

MY has huge investments globally. In PH, MY investments have been on a steady growth in the recent years. Approved MY investments by all the investment promotion agencies (IPAs) reached Php219.038 billion in 2016.

In the first eight months of 2017, MY investments registered with all IPAs reached Php26.242 billion. Of these figures, total BOI-registered MY investments amounted to Php4.33 billion from 2012 up to January to August 2017.

Top MY investments in PH are in the industries of agriculture, forestry and fishing; manufacturing; power; water supply, sewerage, and waste management; construction; wholesale and retail trade; transportation and storage; information and communication; financial and insurance activities; real estate activities, and administrative and support activities.