BRITISH businesses are hoping to continue the harmonious trade and investment relationship with the Philippines regardless of who will be elected president on May 9.
“Whoever is the eventual winner, we consider that our relationship will not be affected,” Chris Nelson, chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce Philippines (BCCP), said in a press briefing on Friday.
“Regardless of the eventual outcome, we only see businesses growing and that interest is shown by the UK companies here,” he added.
Nelson said all of the more than 800 member companies of BCCP “are expressing interest” to grow their businesses here in the Philippines.
“We’ve had over 800 UK companies expressing interest. That’s a significant number of people wanting to do business. And let us not forget the number of Filipino companies who are now doing business in the UK,” he said.
Among the recent Filipino investments in the UK are Andrew Tan’s P31.7-billion takeover of the scotch whiskey brand Whyte & Mackay; Monde Nissin Corp. acquiring Quorn Foods for P29.66 billion; and flag carrier Philippine Airlines’ order of six long-haul Airbus aircraft with Rolls Royce engines.
“There is a lot of interest in here. With what’s going on in the UK and companies here, we see that continuing,” Nelson said.
Asked about the chamber’s wish list for the next administration, Nelson said: “In general, our wish list is to continue to grow and make doing business easier in the Philippines.”
Nelson said most of the UK firms are looking at expansion opportunities in the country’s infrastructure and power sector, particularly in renewable energy, as well as other infrastructure-related and air traffic control support.
Mike Moon, director of the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), said there is also a lot of interest and continuing investments in the manufacturing sector, especially the electronics segment.
“Manufacturing. That is the area where you still have competitive advantage in the Philippines,” Moon said, citing electronics manufacturing firm Surface Technology International, which has a facility in Cebu, planning to expand their factory.
Moon said “there are likely one or two investments in the coming year from the UK into the Philippines” in the manufacturing sector, although he did not give further details.
Biggest European investor in PH
According to the BCCP and UKTI, bilateral trade between the UK and the Philippines amounts to around $1.8 billion annually, while UK exports to the Philippines grew by 44 percent in the first half of 2015. The UK is considered the biggest European investor in the Philippines, having a net foreign direct stock of over $5 billion.
In addition, BCCP directory shows that there are 14 UK firms that are currently under negotiations to enter the Philippines, one of which has already built a shared services office in the country within the first quarter of the year.
A UK software and subscriber management firm called Paywizard, Nelson said, has already put up its shared services office in the country within the year.
Other UK companies working their way to enter the Philippine market are: private equity and fund administration firm Augentius; seismic device maker Guralp; event management firm Westrade Group; software manufacturer Semafone; plastics maker Symphony Environment Ltd.; food and beverage company Bruntys Premium Cider; and IT services firm Tectonic Interactive.
Also seeking to enter the country are ICT and software firm PRQA; leisure and gaming company Miomni Gaming Ltd.; pharmaceutical firm Rosemont Pharmaceuticals Ltd., while firms like Big Oz, A&C Associates and University of Derby are looking to partner with local companies to distribute their products and franchises—Big Oz cereals, A&C Associates’ Pizza Express food chain, and University of Derby’s prospective center of excellence in the Philippines.
Since the start of its Overseas Business Network Initiative (OBNi) in April 2014, the BCCP has now grown its member companies to more than 800 coming from sectors such as food and beverage, pharmaceutical and skin care, ICT and software, plastics, and electronics, among others.
The BCCP and UKTI have scheduled Philippine trade missions in June, which will market the country’s food and beverage, infrastructure and energy sectors to UK companies.