AmCham: PH still has key role in Asean markets

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Majority of the member firms of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) still consider the Philippines of “high importance” to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) markets.

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Based on the AmCham’s “Asean Business Outlook Survey 2015,” 71 percent of its members said they believe that the Philippines will continue to be important in the region for years.

The survey assesses business opportunities in the region and gauges perceptions of future expansions of American investments.

Majority of its members also indicated increased level of trade in the Asean region over the past two years and almost 90 percent expect to continue seeing a rise over the next five years.

“Hence, we believe that Asean integration will bring vibrant business activities and unique opportunities for Filipinos as the Philippines has the availability of trained personnel as its strength,” AmCham Philippines said in a statement.

As Asean 2015 gets nearer, however, AmCham expressed alarm over some major concerns the report pointed out for the Philippines.

It cited the low labor cost indicator, which declined from 74 percent to 69 percent, which means the country tended to have higher labor costs in 2014 than in 2013.

The group also said infrastructure was more challenging as the survey indicated that dissatisfaction rates increased 13 percent from 54 percent to 67 percent.

This came as an immediate effect of the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on the unconstitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), constraining spending by the Executive branch on DAP-funded infrastructure projects.

At the same time, the group also said that the ease of moving products through customs deteriorated with a dissatisfaction rate of 55 percent, up from 44 percent previously.

It said the truck ban issue negatively affected the movement of goods and disrupted national economic performance.

“We hope that the Executive department pays close attention to this unfortunate scenario,” the group added.

AmCham also took note of the improvements the country achieved as shown by the survey.

The survey showed, for instance, that there was a decrease in dissatisfaction perception on corruption from 59 percent to 57 percent, a result of the government’s continuous drive for transparency and its fight against corruption cases and anomalies in the bureaucracy.

“The Philippines is an active player in the Partnership for Good Governance and we hope that our government officials seriously consider among its ranks to sign the Integrity Pledge initiated by the business community,” the group said.

Almost 100 percent of AmCham’s expatriate members said they are generally satisfied with their assignments to the Philippines and 82 percent said they have attempted to extend their time in the country.

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