Foreign investment outlook still ‘positive’

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NEDA sees election-related caution normal
The outlook for foreign investment pledges remains positive, a socioeconomic planning official told The Manila Times, despite investor caution over the outcome of the May national elections.

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“While investor confidence was evident in 2015, it would be normal for investors to be more cautious as the elections approach. But still, the outlook for 2016 is positive,” said Margarita R. Songco, deputy director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), in an e-mail interview.

Interested foreign investors are eyeing the May elections—which will see Filipinos choosing President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s successor—as the change in government could affect the business enviroment, particularly in terms of whether programs pushed by the Aquino government would continue.

Approved foreign investments to the Philippines climbed by 31.2 percent to P245.2 billion from P187 billion in 2014, data released recently showed.

Songco said the manufacturing sector accounted for the bulk or 54.9 percent of the total, growing by 22.9 percent from the previous year. This was followed by investment pledges targeted at the utilities sector, which covered 19 percent of the total and increased seven fold.

She said manufacturing was expected to continue spearheading investments growth this year.

“Manufacturing investments are likely to continue as rising wages in China result in a reconfiguration of regional production networks,” Songco said.

“Significant investment opportunities remain in the BPM (business process mangement), finance, tourism, and energy sectors and other public infrastructure including PPP (public-private partnership) projects, among others,” she added.

Approved investments in the fourth quarter alone jumped by 45.6 percent P138.6 billion from P95.2 billion, with the manufacturing sector still the highest contributor with a 69.1 percent share worth P95.8 billion.

The Japanese remained the top investors, with their pledges reaching P39.4 billion or 28.5 percent of the total. They were were followed by investors from the Netherlands and the US who respectively committed P37 billion and P16.5 billion or 26.7 percent and 11.9 percent of total approved foreign investments.

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