The Philippines considers digitization projects like smart city initiatives, financial technology, and agriculture as potential areas of collaboration with investors from Singapore, officials said.

In his speech at the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Philippines-Singapore Business and Investment Summit Friday, Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Joseph del Mar Yap said the pandemic crisis has opened up opportunities that also include, automation and e-commerce as companies effect a transformation to adapt to the post-pandemic realities, Mr. Yap said.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez added that priority sectors being promoted to Singapore include services, infrastructure, public-private partnership (PPP) projects, and startups.

The strategic intent of this approach is to provide “basic necessities, supporting the fourth Industrial Revolution, address supply chain gaps, develop a more modern Philippines, and generate high-value jobs,” Mr. Lopez said.

Mr. Lopez noted pending measures facilitating greater trade and investment like the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) bill.

“Under the ratified version of the bill, qualified activities or projects can enjoy the incentives package for a maximum of 17 years. These include four to seven years of Income Tax Holiday (ITH), and a 5% Special corporate income tax (or CIT) rate based on Gross Income Earned (GIE) for 10 years, in lieu of all national and local taxes, among others,” he said.

“There is obviously a wide scope of complementation and industry collaboration between the Philippines and Singapore, and we invite our potential and existing partners in Singapore to explore these business opportunities,” Mr. Lopez added.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said: “I urge the Singapore business community to take a much closer look at the investment opportunities in the Philippines. I hope that our strong fundamentals, fiscal stamina, pro-business environment, and effective governance will continue to make us a promising investment destination for Singapore investors.”

“The best way forward for the region is to resume integration and cooperation in earnest. We are each other’s best allies in recovery. We create products for each other’s consumers. A surge in demand later this year should translate into an expansion of our manufacturing activities and more robust investment flows,” Mr. Dominguez added.

PCCI President Benedicto V. Yujuico said the areas of “great opportunity” in the Philippines are: “Number one, agriculture – both in vegetables and fruits. Number two, aquaculture, the growing of fish and shrimp. Number three, financial technology and microfinance. Number four, renewable energy: wind, solar, or run of river power plants. Number five, medical and healthcare, and, number six, science park land development.”

“If there are any Singapore companies that are interested in these six specific business areas, the PCCI has counterpart businessmen who have the capability and willingness to go into joint ventures,” he said.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor Benjamin E. Diokno said country is a “smart investment destination” for potential Singapore investors.

“The reform momentum will help fuel the Philippines’ recovery, address structural issues, and continue to enhance the Philippines’ competitiveness as a leading investment destination. You are welcome to do business with us and be part of our exciting post-COVID narrative,” Mr. Diokno added.

The economy slumped by a record 9.5% last year due to the pandemic, but is expected to rebound by 6.5-7.5% this year.

Among the other bills that the economic team is supporting were the amendments to Foreign Investment Act, the Public Service Act, and Retail Trade Liberalization Law. — Arjay L. Balinbin, Beatrice M. Laforga