Italian businesses are hoping to make the Philippines a jumping-off point for regional trade, the Board of Investments (BoI) said Friday

“Italy intends to expand its businesses in the ASEAN region with the Philippines as its top priority,” the BoI said in a statement.

Enrico Letta, president of Associazione Italia-ASEAN, announed Italy’s plans in the region at a Jan. 26 webinar, “Italy-Philippines: Discovering the Opportunities,” according to the BoI.

BoI Officer-in-Charge Director Lanie O. Dormiendo said the interest from Italy represents a “vote of confidence” in the Philippines as an investment destination.

She expressed the hope Italian firms will participate in the infrastructure and garments industries.

Ms. Dormiendo at the webinar touted the Philippines’ strengths as a source of natural fibers like abaca and pineapple.

“For garments, opportunities are in sustainable clothing, cutting-edge design high-performance garments, using smart materials out of natural fibers such as abaca and pineapple,” she said.

Philippine Ambassador to Italy Domingo P. Nolasco also noted available opportunities for the Italian investors in aerospace, renewable energy, and machinery.

“In 2020, investment promotion agencies-approved Italian investment totaled P114.7 million,” the BoI said. “Total investments from Italy since 2015 amounted to P1.32 billion as of last year.”

The BoI said notable Italian investors in the Philippines include the leather-goods brand Fendi, the luxury goods group Stefano Ricci SpA, and Novabala JV Corp., which is the design and construction contractor for the P486 million Novaliches-Balara Aqueduct 4 via the La Mesa Reservation in Quezon City. Italpinas Development Corp. is also developing low-cost housing in Mindanao.

Citing preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the BoI said the Philippines imported $584.4 million worth of goods from Italy, against exports of about $200 million in 2020. —Beatrice M. Laforga