Big EU firms see more opportunities in Philippines

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While the European Union already holds the largest stock of foreign investment in the Philippines, European traders are looking to further increase their exposure in the country, which continues to enjoy positive ratings from foreign firms and international institutions.

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European Union Ambassador Guy Ledoux said EU-member states are very enthusiastic about the Philippines.

“We are convinced that the opportunity for many more European investments creating that would create many new jobs for highly-skilled Filipinos,” Ledoux said.

A 2013 survey of companies in Asia and Oceania, the Japan External Trade Organization said the Philippines is the second most profitable among Asean-5 countries, second only to Thailand. It also continues to enjoy positive outlook from Fitch Ratings Agency, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s as the country posted one of the fastest growth rates in Asia at 7.2 percent.

“European investors are closely following developments here, in particular with respect to reforms in customs, competition and public procurement . . .,” Ledoux added.

He made the remarks ahead of the visit of a high-level delegation to the Keppel Shipyard in Subic, Zambales, to witness the construction of a new platform for the Malampaya Deep Water Gas-to-Power project.

The EU delegation is comprised of Italy Ambassador Massimo Roscigno, Belgium Ambassador Roland Van Remoortele and Austria Ambassador Josef Muellner.

Also expected to join the visit are Michael Hasper, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Germany, Hero de Boer, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of the Netherlands, Mihai Sion, Chargé d’Affaires Embassy of Romania, Jan Vytopil, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the Czech Republic and Nikolaos Verghis, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Greece.

The Malampaya project—which supplies more than 40 percent of Luzon’s power requirements—is developed and operated by Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX) on behalf of joint venture partners Chevron Malampaya LLC and the PNOC Exploration Corp.

Still regarded as the single biggest investment in the Philippines to date, Phase 1 of the Malampaya project has an estimated capital outlay of $4.5 billion.

The consortium has committed an additional $1.02 billion for phases 2 and 3.

According to Ledoux, the involvement of multinational firms in the Malampaya project illustrates how the entry of big foreign companies can impact the local economy not only in terms of investment dollars but also in the amount of new jobs created.

“The scale of this investment is significant by any other measure. Several European companies are involved in this endeavor that promises to secure an important source of revenue for the Philippine government while creating 1,200 new jobs for well-trained Filipinos right here in their own country,” he said.

Ledoux added that additional business-related reforms are boosting foreign business confidence in the country that has been buoyed by the Philippine government’s efforts to curb corruption and improve local infrastructure.

Among the reforms being closely followed by European investors are the new competition policy, revision of Foreign Investment Negative List and customs reforms such as the single window and transparency systems.

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