MANILA: The Philippines is starting to gain the interest of British companies as they are willing to increase their investments in infrastructure projects.
Nine British companies specializing in the development, implementation and operations of transportation projects participated in a UK Transport Seminar held at the Discovery Suites in Mandaluyong City on Wednesday.
The British Embassy organized the seminar to highlight UK’s capabilities in rail, roads and airport solutions. It is also being held in conjunction with the Asian Development Bank’s Transport Forum.
British Embassy Director of Trade and Investment Mike Moon said that the British government welcomed the Duterte administration’s plan to increase infrastructure spending in the country to 5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through public-private partnership (PPP) projects as part of its 10 point economic agenda.
“British companies are willing to participate in PPP projects of the government. They are willing to work with local partners here in the country,” Moon said in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of the event.
He said that infrastructure could become a key area of partnership for the Philippines and UK.
For instance, UK is known worldwide for its expertise in airport and aviation wherein best practices and innovations can be used as reference and applied to the local context.
“The Mactan-Cebu International Airport is example of how UK capabilities can add value across the project life cycle, involving British firms such as Mott Macdonald for technical consultancy, Arup for design, Zoetfig for interiors and G4S and Smiths Detection for security solutions, according to Moon.
UK is also a pioneer in railway development and is widely recognized for its capabilities in planning, station design, project delivery, rail infrastructure and equipment, asset management and safety and security including operations and training.
A number of British companies are currently engaged in the front end work, delivery and supply chain requirements of some of the live and pipeline rail projects in the country.
The embassy official cited the country’s young demographic and increasing economic growth as main factors why foreign investors are starting to take notice of the Philippines as an investment destination.
“We hope that more British companies will be interested in the Philippines,” he said.
Among the companies that participated in the trade mission include Aggreko, Arup, Atkins, Arcadis/EC Harris, Foster and Partners, Hawker Sidley Switchgear Ltd., Indigovision, Roughton Group, and Smith Detections.
For her part, Sen. Grace Poe urges the government to establish an oversight committee that will scrutinize infrastructure projects amid the Senate’s continuing deliberation on the proposed emergency powers that seeks to address the traffic congestion in Metro Manila and other urban areas of the country.
“We want to enter into contracts that will not put government at a disadvantage,” Poe said in her keynote address at the seminar.
She also expressed hopes that the government would be able to fast-track the implementation of infrastructure projects and set up a single traffic authority to coordinate traffic policies.
Data from the British Embassy show that UK export of goods increased by 38 percent in 2015, making the Philippines among its fastest export markets.
The top UK exports include electrical machinery, pharmaceuticals, industrial machinery and equipment, road vehicles, other transport equipment, power generating machinery and equipment, and professional services.
Philippine top exports include electronics and computer parts, wood craft and furniture products, transport equipment and raw materials.
As of 2015, the UK is the largest European investor in the Philippines worth in excess of 1 billion pounds.