NANNING, CHINA: Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo is on a charm offensive in this city, trying to convince Chinese investors to enter the Philippine market.
At a recent meeting with prospective Chinese investors, Domingo said the Philippines’ “light” industry market has been slowly gaining traction in the last five years.
Light industry covers clothes, shoes, furniture, consumer electronics and home appliances.
Domingo told Chinese investors that Fuji film opened a plant in the Philippines that makes high-quality lenses for cellphone cameras and projectors. Brother opened a printer plant in the Philippines, and Canon is expected to open its own facility soon.
He said the Philippines had also started making toys and medical devices for export. Garments like Ann Taylor and designer bags like Coach have been produced in China.
Domingo said Philippine exports have diversified.
Semiconductors used to take the lion’s share or 70 percent of Philippine exports.
That has gone down to 40 percent, he said, and the slack was taken up by other products.
“In the last five years, the country has also experienced a massive diversification of products,” Domingo said.
Although the Philippines cannot compete with Bangladesh in the production of lower quality brand of garments, Domingo said the country “is very competitive in the high-end brand.”
“Garments is a market that we like to push. Right now we don’t have a very significant textile industry in the Philippines. That is something that we would welcome,” he said.
He added that the country will “fully support” business opportunities for this sector and that “we have the environment in the economic zones [where]you can get your approval [for business]within the day.”
Domingo said there are also “sizable opportunities” in the bamboo industry, rubber processing, aquaculture, especially lapu-lapu (grouper), and cold supply chain cold storage facilities for moving goods requiring refrigeration.
Domingo acknowledged that the economic ties of the Philippines and China are not on equal footing.
While Philippine companies have invested more than $2.5 billion in China, Chinese investments in the Philippines “still remains low” at less than $1 billion, he said.
“That is something that we have to work on,” he said.
The DTI head mentioned the Philippines’ 7.6-percent increase in gross domestic product for the first half of 2013 and the three investment grade ratings from Fitch, Standard & Poor, and the Japan Credit Rating Agency.
In terms of competitiveness, the country also jumped to 85th place from 65th in the World Economic Forum ranking.
“The Philippines is entering a new phase of renewed industrialization. We are becoming a bustling hub of trade and investment opportunities,” Domingo said.