The Philippines is encouraging more investment from Spanish and other foreign business groups that want a foothold in the highly lucrative and emerging integrated Southeast Asian market, the Department of Finance said on Monday.
Speaking at the opening of the 8th Tribuna España-Filipinas over the weekend, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said the Duterte administration is committed to keeping the robust pace of domestic growth that expanded 7.1 percent in the third quarter.
The government intends to modernize the country’s infrastructure, bringing down production costs to competitive levels and open public private partnership (PPP) projects to clear traffic congestion and improve the flow of commerce throughout the country.
“There should be ample opportunities for Spanish firms to participate in these projects,” Dominguez said at the symposium held at the Marco Polo Hotel, pointing out that the government is set to invest $180 billion in infrastructure over the next six years.
“I would like to recognize that Spain is very advanced in infrastructure, particularly highways and railways,” Dominguez added.
Under the 2013-2016 Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation, the Philippines is Spain’s sole priority country in Asia.
As of April this year, data from the National Economic and Development Authority showed that Spanish Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines amounted to $29.93 million.
The government is also improving the ease of doing business in the country by drastically cutting red tape by simplifying procedures and reducing the number of approvals required for businesses to set up shop.
“As part of improving the ease of doing business, we are now closely reviewing the investments negative lists,” Dominguez said. “We will try to cut these lists as much as is constitutionally possible in order to enhance investment flows to our economy.”
“We wish foreign investors to come in and provide the competition our economy so direly needs,” he said. “Foreign investments not only induce competitiveness among firms, they cause transfers of technologies that will yield rewards for our economy in the long run.”
Among those present at the gathering were Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Ignacio Ybanez; George Barcelon, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Jose Leviste, chair of the Philippines-Spain Business Council; Ramon Moreno, director-general of Casa Asia; and members of the diplomatic corps of Spain and the Philippines.