DAVAO CITY — Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Assistant Secretary Arturo P. Boncato in an interview said with the Philippine chairmanship of ASEAN, it is now the time to promote agribusiness and manufacturing ventures to investors from the region.

Mr. Boncato said Philippines can offer agribusiness, manufacturing and other value-adding activities. He said agri products that are canned or processed are of special interest to DTI.

He also said that all industries in the Philippines are open in Mindanao, including construction, manufacturing, housing materials, medical services, tourism, with not only ASEAN investors welcome to these segments but also investors from the US, Japan, China, and South Korea.

Apart from manufacturing and agribusiness other areas with potential for investment are human resources, engineering, infrastructure and practically all areas that are open to partnerships and investment from foreigners.

“The Philippine is very much open for those and we’re looking for partners, foreign direct investments are also one indicator that we would like to focus on to increase the flow of investments into the Philippines,” Mr. Boncato said.

Mr. Boncato said the department is also focusing on growing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and also to push them to grow their businesses through e-commerce.

“We are focused on MSMEs for e-commerce, agribusiness, manufacturing in practically all areas — there are opportunities for growth in Mindanao,” he said.

He said the chairmanship of ASEAN is an opportunity because the Philippines can take the lead in terms of meetings. He said there is a chance to showcase Filipino hospitality and also the country’s determination to grow the economy.

“The ASEAN launch opens a lot of doors because for one year a lot of economic meetings will be happening in different parts of the Philippines. This is a good opportunity for us to show them the physical areas where they can actually invest in and it would be a good opportunity for us to really link with individual and groups and organizations and companies and corporation who want to expand their businesses within the Philippines coming from Japan and many parts in ASEAN as development partners,” he said.

He also said the activities associated with the ASEAN launch are part of DTI’s efforts to share information about the entire Philippines.

“During the visit of the [Japan’s] Prime Minister Shinzo Abe we had the really very successful roundtable discussion in Malacanang among the CEOs of big corporations together with CEOs coming from Japan. It was a very intimate gathering and we were able to talk about specific needs of the Japanese investors and partners who would like to invest more in the Philippines,” he said.

He also said that activities in Davao City focused on the bright spots in Mindanao in terms of investment particularly from Japan. — Maya M. Padillo