“I am half-Filipino,” he says in jest during a one on one interview at his suite.
KOIMA Chairman Thomas Shinn’s passion for the Philippines emanates from a genuine love for the Philippines tracing back the friendship between Koreans and Filipinos during the Korean War which incidentally will be celebrated this July 27 in Korea. He considers the Philippines his second home coming here every two months to visit and play golf. He says it is much closer compared to other Asean countries.
Shinn’s company, the Han Shinn International Corporation, has been exporting and importing products in the Philippines for more than 10 years. It has supplied a lot of molds for PET (or polyethylene terephthalate) bottles used for mineral water, medicine bottles, and known brands like Gatorade and Eskinol. It has also supplied tin plates, and bought agricultural products in the country.
Shinn curiously noted why there are no manufacturers of aluminum in the Philippines.
“If we can find a partner here, we are ready to invest and it will be a big investment. Aluminum is very important because the packaging industry is important in the Philippines. If somebody will produce here, it will be a good industry,” Shinn said.
“Our delegation will not only import from the Philippines but also invest in the country, hire people, make the produce here and bring it back to Korea or export to Asean countries,” Shinn said.
“Last year, Korea’s investment into the Philippines grew 400 percent from the previous year and more than one million Korean tourists came to the nation, being the No. 1 foreign visitors to the Philippines,” Shinn said during the recent trade and investment business forum hosted by the DTI for the KOIMA buying mission to the Philippines. Shinn also noted that the Philippines has become one of the key trade partners of Korea as the trade volume between the two nations was growing fast to set the record high of $11.5 billion last year.
“We want to increase our import value from the Philippines. Most of our exports are agricultural products. We intend to expand in agriculture, garments and mining products,” Shinn said.
He also mentioned one big telecommunication company in Korea is seriously eyeing joint-venture arrangements in the Philippines.
The recent buying mission of South Korea’s largest association of importers (KOIMA) is the biggest ever among any foreign delegation. The gesture is interpreted as a growing confidence of Korea in the Philippines as a major supplier in Asia and supportive of Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) objective to grow investment-led exports and to encourage investments into the tourism infrastructure.
“Through this forum, I am optimistic that KOIMA will be at the forefront in augmenting the trade and investment between our two countries. There are numerous reasons why the Philippines is important to Korea, I believe that the key factor is our shared economic principle,” Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Lee Hyuk said during the forum.
He mentioned the Philippines is renowned across the world for its highly skilled and dynamic workforce. Filipinos are service-oriented, easy to train, and have a high command of the English language. The Philippines has a remarkable supply of raw materials and natural resources which Korea lacks or does not have. A high percentage of Korea’s raw items are sourced from abroad, specifically from neighboring countries, to produce and export quality good across the globe. The Philippines’ abundance in raw materials, which is the life blood of today’s modern industry, can complement Korea’s increasing need for raw products.
“With the Asean-Korea Free Trade Agreement now in full swing, we can expect our bilateral trade to accelerate in the years to come. Furthermore, I believe that investment is as important as trade in elevating our economic partnership to new level to enduring economic relationship between our two countries,” Hyuk said.
For his part, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said the Philippines has proven that good governance is good economics.
“We in government are capitalizing on our recent breakthroughs. The Philippine economy expanded by 7.8 percent in the first quarter of 2013, making fastest growing in Asia,” DTI Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said during the forum. “We encourage you to look for more business opportunities. South Korean importers or KOIMA can look into products like fruit juice, cane sugar, organic and natural health products, home furnishing and garments, and services related to education, entertainment and tourism.”
This mission was jointly hosted by DTI and the Department of Tourism (DOT) for the 182-member delegation composed of CEOs from KOIMA member companies and their spouses. The Philippines was reportedly chosen unanimously by the CEOs over Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. KOIMA handles 70 percent of Korea’s total imports, which reached US$519 billion in 2012. It is composed of more than 8,000 importers, supplying Korea’s end-user principals, manufacturers and processors, distributors and retailers, and the government’s procurement agencies.
Let’s not put to waste the goodwill brought about by this mission. Kudos to PTIC Seoul Commercial Attache Nic Bautista and his Korean trade assistant Aija!
God is Great!