THE BOARD of Investments (BoI) approved 24% more committed investments at P312.8 billion in the seven months to July, with majority of the inflows going outside Metro Manila, the agency said on Tuesday.

“This growth was still resilient enough to withstand the global demand downturn brought about by the lingering trade dispute between the US and China, the trade spat between Japan and South Korea and… geopolitical tensions,” Trade Secretary and BoI Chairman Ramon M. Lopez said in a statement. “We remain among the fastest growing economies in Asia and we are among the few countries to even register a 1.5% export growth in July.”

Mr. Lopez said investors continued to show “strong confidence” in the Philippines and the administration despite the challenges from global tensions. The provinces cornered 96.3% of total committed investments in the seven months.

Although local investments accounted for nearly 78% of the total at P243.2 billion, or a growth of 2.7%, foreign inflows recorded a significant increase of 348% to P69.6 billion.

Among foreign investors, Singapore remained the top source with P35.4 billion. Netherlands followed with P9.2 billion. Thailand came out third with P8.6 billion. Japan with P5.8 billion and the United States with P2.4 billion completed the top five investment sources.

Mr. Lopez said the Philippines had diversified its markets by identifying new destinations for more opportunities while ensuring that its domestic base remains strong and on the upswing to soften the impact of the trade disputes.

“The recent trade spat between Korea and Japan should urge us to escalate and complete the negotiation of the free trade agreement with South Korea and review or enhance the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement to avail of more opportunities and exchanges with Japan. Despite the obstacles to global trade, we have to adapt as we make a push for our domestic industries to grow and move forward,” he said.

The BoI said power projects remained the biggest recipients of investments with P195.1 billion, up 65.3% from a year ago. The manufacturing sector accounted for P46.1 billion as investments jumped 132.6%.

The information and communication sector posted P33.2 billion, nearly a hundred times more than the P340 million last year. The tourism accommodation sector made up P9 billion, about eight times more than a year earlier. The human health and social work activities, or hospitals, recorded P1.8 billion, higher by 37% from a year ago.

Trade Undersecretary and BoI Managing Head Ceferino S. Rodolfo said investments were still growing despite international tensions. “We still have a lot of pending projects that need thorough study and evaluation. I am still confident that by the end of the year, we are going to attain our target despite the global uncertainties. We assure foreign investors that the Philippines is a safe haven for their investments and they should take advantage of our very strong domestic demand and commit to long-term deals,” he said.

Region IV-A or Calabarzon topped regions with P203.3 billion, or 65% of the total. Region III or Central Luzon came second with P29.3 billion. Metro Manila was third with P11.7 billion or 3.7%. Region II or Cagayan Valley had P10 billion, while Region VII or Central Visayas registered P9.4 billion to complete the top five regions.

In July, notable projects approved were the P1.7-billion Airbus plane project of Cebu Air., Inc.; the P1.4-billion, 9.4-megawatt hydropower project of At Dinum Co. in Nueva Ecija; the P728-million hydropower facility of Coto Hydro Corp. in Zambales; Integrated Meat and Poultry Processing Inc.’s P410-million poultry dressing plant in Bataan; and the P381-million low-cost housing project of Borland Development Corp. in Batangas. — Victor V. Saulon