THE PHILIPPINES can expect partnerships and trade opportunities in Malaysia, while private companies can develop greater exposure to each other’s home countries, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said.
Mr. Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) delivered the message at a business forum in Makati City with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad.
Mr. Lopez said Philippines and Malaysian companies in recent years “have made major trade and investment inroads in our respective countries.”
“There are many other companies with presence in each of our countries, and we seek to develop more business matches with today’s meeting. For example, among our country’s priority sectors for investment promotion is infrastructure development. With these in mind, we hope to engage with MTD Group, Muhibbah Engineering, and Budi Technology, among others, who are present here today,” he said.
“Meanwhile, many of our Philippine companies can find more opportunities in Malaysia. Steel Asia, Zuellig, and Sterling Group can benefit from Malaysia’s focus on manufacturing. Meanwhile, San Miguel, Universal Robina, and Zest-O Group can take advantage of their processing of agricultural produce and manufacturing-related services,” he added in his speech delivered during the event.
He said he also foresees potential partnerships and trade opportunities between the two countries.
“On our end, the Philippines is interested in pushing for agriculture, processing of high-value and value-added products and services, as well as technology and innovation that would address the fourth industrial revolution,” he said.
“There are other trade areas that our two nations can concentrate on, like the Halal industry, the developing barter trade in Mindanao, which President [Rodrigo R.] Duterte has been encouraging to revive, and BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area),” he said.
“Given that Malaysia is regarded as a leader for Halal, and how the barter trade can benefit our neighboring towns, I am confident that we can have a fruitful discussion on these matters today,” he added.
Mr. Lopez said like Malaysia, the Philippines is also working towards implementing major economic reforms.
“President Duterte just recently signed the Rice Tariffication Law, the Ease of Doing Business Law, the Philippine tax reform system, and other legislative measures. This is proof positive that the Philippine government is committed to economic reforms, liberalization, and pushing for greater trade and investment engagements,” he said.
Mr. Lopez said through stronger engagements in trade and investment, both countries are sure to expand their bilateral trade relations and solidify even further their ties.
He said Malaysia had consistently been one of Philippines’ strong trade partners, being the country’s 10th largest trading partner with total bilateral trade at $6 billion. He added that Malaysia had also been the Philippines’ 11th major export market and ninth top source of imports.
“In fact, among the Philippines’ top sources of approved foreign investments as noted by our investment promotion agencies, Malaysia posted the highest growth rate in 2017-2018,” he said.
Mr. Lopez said Malaysia was the Philippines’ fifth-largest source of approved foreign investment last year, next to China, Singapore, Japan, and the British Virgin Islands.
Approved foreign investment from Malaysia amounted to P15 billion or $290 million, accounting for 8.2% of the total approvals investments in 2018. — Victor V. Saulon