Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez met with senior executives of Japan’s seven major trading houses in Tokyo recently (March 1, 2017) to discuss President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic programs and Japanese Companies investment interests in the Philippines, conservatively valued at Php198.5B.

During a breakfast dialogue, Lopez—together with Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and PH Ambassador-Designate Jose Laurel V—got together with representatives of the sogo shoshas or Japanese companies with a broad range of business activities. Companies present at the meeting were Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsui and Co., Ltd., Sumitomo Corporation, Itochu Corporation, Marubeni Corporation, Toyota Tsusho, and Sojitz.

“Through sound and consistent macroeconomic policies, the country continues to attract serious investments. The fundamentals are there in terms of a fast-growing economy, a 109-million population base, standing trade agreements, and a young, talented, and dedicated work force,” Sec. Lopez said on the Japanese companies’ willingness to investment in the Philippines.

“All these—plus political will and focused trade and investment policies—act as a magnet for foreign investments,” Sec. Lopez added.

The investment interests of the sogo shoshas would cover the period spanning late 2016 to 2020, and include:

  • Marubeni willing to invest in additional coal power plants worth Php75B over the medium term;
  • Itochu and Sumitomo (through PH subsidiaries Dole and Sumifru respectively) willing to invest an additional Php12.9B through 2018 to expand their integrated farming projects in Mindanao;
  • Sumitomo, Sojitz, and Mitsui jointly invested in Coral Bay Nickle Corporation and Taganito High Pressure Acid Leaching (THPAL) Nickle Corporation in Surigao and Palawan, at a cost of Php80B;
  • The CARS program, under the DTI-driven Manufacturing Resurgence Strategy, enjoying the support and participation of Mitsubishi, Sojitz, Mitsui, and Toyota Tsusho; and,
  • All 7 trading houses expressing interest in the Philippines’ “Golden Age of Infrastructure,” i.e. the Railway and Subway Projects, the Clark Green City Project, the Expanded Port and RoRo Building Programs, and the Airport Development Projects.

“With DTI’s inclusive business model, our resource-based country has the potential to become a major supplier to the world by fostering value chain linkages and partnerships between the MSMEs as suppliers of goods and services, and the large enterprises as buyers,” Sec. Lopez said.

When asked about the Philippine government’s mining and tax policies, Secretaries Tugade and Lopez responded that government reforms are being crafted along balanced and fair consideration of both industry and consumer interests.

They also assured investors that with public sector agencies rigidly adhering to President Rodrigo Duterte’s zero corruption dictum, projects would receive adequate protection and fair treatment.

The two officials likewise encouraged the Japanese trading houses to use their expansive business systems to help in planning an efficient set of economic infrastructure, such as farm-to-market roads, bridges, seaports, airports, railways for cargo, passengers and RORO vessels, and service providers.