THE BRITISH CHAMBER of Commerce of the Philippines (BCCP) said it remains positive on the Philippines’ growth potential despite problems posed by inflation, higher taxes and interest rates.
BCCP Executive Chairman Chris Nelson said UK businesses will still be drawn by the positive side of doing business in the country.
“I think in terms of UK companies, yes these are considerations but these will be balanced off,” Mr. Nelson told reporters during a roundtable at the group’s headquarters in Taguig City.
One key consideration is the economic growth, which was 6% in the second quarter.
“Six percent is still a very strong growth rate. And there are particular effects… I think there is a growing demand for products and services,” Mr. Nelson said.
“I’ve lived in the Philippines 15 years. I’ve seen, I think it’s fair to say, a lot of developments,” he added.
He cited the passage of Republic Act 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.
“One of the most common questions, if not the single most common question, is what is the ease of doing business [in the Philippines],” said Mr. Nelson.
The group believes the law will attract more UK investment to the Philippines, he said, while also citing the “young and dynamic” work force and high literacy levels.
Although the BCCP’s position is less negative than some foreign chambers on certain matters, it agrees on the need to lower foreign ownership barriers ahead of the approval of the 11th foreign investment negative list (FINL).
“Along with other chambers, we will support that. The key is how to accelerate foreign direct investment and look at those opportunities,” Mr. Nelson added.
The 11th FINL, which is awaiting President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s signature, is expected to ease restrictions on foreign ownership in industries like culture; production, milling and processing, trading except retailing of rice and corn, and trading in rice and corn and by-products; teaching in higher education; and the retail trade.
For now, the group is working on boosting UK businesses’ awareness of growth opportunities in the Philippines.
“Knowledge of the Philippines in the UK is not as high as in the other countries. So what we are constantly doing when we go back update the business community [about] the Philippines,” he added.
On Sept. 27, the British Chamber will be holding an event in London which Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez is expected to attend. The event will accompany the upcoming Philippine Economic Briefing, organized by the Philippine Embassy in London.
In October, the chamber will participate in the “BritCham in Southeast Asia (BiSEA)” road show.
The BCCP has 280 member-firms. — Janina C. Lim