Manila—The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in collaboration with the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, organized an end-of-year Philippine Economic Briefing focused on Philippine-Japan Economic Partnerships in Sustainable Development last 24 November 2021.

During the opening remarks, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte mentioned how the Philippines-Japan relations grew from strength to greater strength in the last five years. He added, “Our bilateral engagement has expanded significantly in a wide range of areas from infrastructure development and promoting peace and development in Mindanao to cooperation in energy, information and communications technology, the environment, public safety, and disaster risk reduction and management.”

The chief executive also thanked Japan for fulfilling its 1T Japanese yen financing commitment this year. “We will continue to show the world a partnership that works–to transform the lives of many–for the better,” he stated

ASEAN Japan Centre Secretary General Kunihiko Hirabayashi, in his remarks, touched on the latest collaborative projects with the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) in Tokyo as well as the Philippine creative economy services, citing the online business matching events in IFEX and Manila FAME, the official launch of the study on Philippine outsourcing opportunities of animation services to Japan and Philippine-Japan prospects in the emerging Digital Fashion industry, expected to reach USD 1 trillion by the end of the decade.  “The lineup of these projects is impressive. It makes me feel that the Philippines attempted the groundbreaking effort to empower people during COVID-19, through shifting to the digitalized industry and creating a new economy tightly interlinked with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) themes,” declared Dr. Hirabayashi.

Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez described Japan as an “extremely reliable partner” for becoming the Philippines’ biggest provider of official development assistance. He said, “Japan’s role as the second largest source of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) did not wane even amidst the pandemic. As a valuable partner in our development story, Japan will continue to play a key role in our economic resurgence”.

The finance chief also assured, “Under our fiscal program, revenue collections will return to pre-pandemic levels. With infection rates continuing with their steep decline and rates of inoculation proceeding at the present rate, we expect to achieve the full reopening of the economy soon”. As head of the Economic Team, he listed digitalization, economic liberalization bills, the remaining tax reform packages, climate change action, and capital market reforms as economic priorities before the end of President Duterte’s term.

In terms of manufacturing, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the country has strong linkages in the global supply chain, especially in electronics, automotive, and medical devices. He said, “Investment opportunities abound in semiconductors and electronics. Several Japanese electronics companies have been in the country for more than 20 years–Rohm, Sharp, Panasonic, Tsukiden, Nidec, Epson and Canon, to name a few.”

The trade chief added, “Medical device manufacturing will be driven by government’s initiatives to upgrade healthcare. The local medical device industry is projected to have a compound annual growth of 8.8% and would rise to USD 884.3 million in two years.”

Lastly, Secretary Lopez talked about investment opportunities in agribusiness and construction services. “We have established a strong global presence in bananas, coco-based products, pineapples, carrageenan, tuna and mangoes. Our strong economic and the added stimulus of our ‘Build, Build, Build’ program have transformed construction services as among the fastest growth drivers of the country”.

On CREATE, he added, “the Strategic Investment Priorities Plan identifies special incentives to attract high-value, labor intensive projects that would further sharpen the Philippines’ competitiveness in the global market.”

The Japanese panel featured presentations by senior officials of JETRO and Keidanren and testimonials by CEOs of three Japanese flagship investors: Marubeni a general trading company whose business operations in the Philippines cover power plants, railway and transportation, water infrastructure and ICT services for smart cities, MinebeaMitsumi whose activities include electronic device and components manufacturing and Toei whose sole production base in ASEAN is located in the country.

DTI Philippine Trade and Investment Center-Tokyo (PTIC-Tokyo) Special Trade Representative Dita Angara-Mathay who moderated the briefing remarked, “The global call to action for sustainable development is very much in sync with the Philippines’ development plan, especially along the lines of inclusivity, respect for the environment, peace and prosperity.”

Towards the end of the briefing, Sec. Lopez emphasized, “The administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is determined to pursue the needed major reforms that will further strengthen the country’s economic foundation in line with market-based principles, ease in doing business, and performance-based support.” The Philippine Embassy and DTI, which organized the event, readily secured support from strategic government and business partners in Japan – ASEAN Japan Center, JETRO, Keidanren, the Japan-Philippine Economic Cooperation Committee and SME Support Japan. ♦

Date of Release: 02 December 2021