The government of Singapore is interested in increasing its investment in the Philippines, as well as adding more flights to Manila ahead of higher demand for air travel between the two countries the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
In a recent meeting with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd, Singaporean Ambassador to Manila Kok Li Peng said Singapore’s private sector would like to explore new growth opportunities in the Philippines, particularly in the retail, transportation, infrastructure and tourism sectors, the DOF said in a statement on Thursday.
Singaporean businessmen are planning to schedule the next meeting of the Philippines-Singapore Business Council (PSBC) in Davao City and, if possible, discuss new business and investment activities in the Philippines with President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We’re trying to get a meeting of the PSBC here. They want to bring the members to Davao to meet with the President,” Kok was quoted as saying, to which Dominguez responded that a possible date for such a dialogue could be in February.
Valued at P16.8 billion in 2015, Singapore’s investment in the Philippines is focused on real estate, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply and manufacturing activities.
Singapore was the Philippines’ fourth largest trading partner, with exports valued at $3.8 billion in 2015—mainly electronic products, petroleum products, and electronic equipment and parts.
The Philippines, in turn, imported $5 billion worth of goods from Singapore, mostly mineral fuels, lubricants, food and live animals, and industrial machinery and equipment.
Kok said Singapore is looking at expanding its airline industry market in the Philippines.
“More competition is good for the consumer,” Kok said, explaining the plan by Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Tiger Airways to add more flights to the Philippines.
Dominguez noted that opening the Philippines’ air travel industry to competition and even partnerships with other airlines would benefit the economy and boost the tourism sector.
The Duterte administration is inclined to engage more with members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and other Asian countries to move forward and achieve a balance in strengthening diplomatic ties with other nations across the globe.
The 10-member Asean block consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The DOF said both Dominguez and Kok agreed that technology and innovation are indispensable to sustaining growth under the current knowledge-based global economy.
“We’re now a knowledge-based economy. We think innovation is the way to go in the future,” Kok said.
Dominguez said the rapid growth of online-based businesses and investments was among the reasons the government considers it a priority to improve interconnectivity and internet speeds.
“The structure of the industry right now is really holding us back. And it’s becoming quite obvious that the system we now have, where we basically have two service providers, is not really working,” Dominguez told Kok.
Kok also asked Dominguez for a review and an update of the terms of the 40-year old double taxation agreement between the Philippines and Singapore.
Dominguez intends to discuss Singapore’s concerns with the Bureau of Internal Revenue.