With a market of 100 million, cost-effective wages and an English-speaking workforce, the Philippines is very attractive to foreign investors, a group of Thailand-based businessmen said on Monday.
Officers of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) Association visited the Philippines from October 11 to 16 to look at investment opportunities in seaports, airports, hotel and resorts, and cultural shows, among others.
“Although ‘One Belt, One Road’ is an initiative and national policy of China, it is a common goal for peaceful development everywhere in the world, including the Philippines,” said Oudom Wang, the group’s executive chairman and secretary general.
He was referring to Beijing’s bid to connect its economy to Asia, Africa and Europe by reviving the ancient Silk Road and maritime routes.
“We are now active in 31 countries and our group is composed of premier leaders, professionals and businessmen,” Wang told The Manila Times.
“The Philippines impressed us a lot. Your 100-million population, your high level of education, and your ability to speak in English will attract investors. Now that labor cost in China is becoming expensive, your cheaper labor will all the more attract investors to come in haste,” said Prasan Sirinnot, a Thai, who accompanied Wang during the tour.
Initially, the group is interested in developing areas in Oriental Mindoro like Bulalacao, a coastline area, and towns surrounding the Vaujan Lake.
Wang said the group would return to the Philippines soon to assess business opportunities.
“We welcome business proposals. We are not engaging in merely putting up hotels or restaurants. We are interested in developing an economic zone,” added the former youth leader of the Communist Party in China.
Wang, who is based in Bangkok, noted that Thailand had developed into a premier tourism destination.
To duplicate Thailand’s feat, the Philippines should convert areas of “natural beauty and unique culture” into tourist attractions.
The group also wants to tap the country’s huge market for online retail through an Alibaba-type operation, he said.
“We will be back soon to talk to businessmen and local government so we can start our peaceful development of major areas,” Wang said.