President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Jan. 4, 2023. — COURTESY OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY WEBSITE.

THE PHILIPPINES is now pursuing 90 active investment leads from Chinese companies, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said on Thursday.

Mr. Marcos made the statement at the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc.’s (FFCCCII) biennial convention, where he touted the investment pledges that he secured during his state visit to China in January.

“I am pleased to share that as of February 2023, the Board of Investments is monitoring 90 active investment leads from Chinese companies engaged in manufacturing, information and technology, business processes management and renewable energy,” the President said in a speech.

Mr. Marcos recognized the Filipino-Chinese chamber’s participation during his visit to China, noting that it “paved the way for the signing of various agreements to improve bilateral trade and investment cooperation” between Manila and Beijing.

The agreements secured during the China visit covered agriculture, renewable energy, nickel processing, tourism, and bridge construction.

However, Leonardo A. Lanzona, who teaches economics at the Ateneo de Manila University, said attracting long-term investment requires institutional reforms such as anti-corruption measures.

“Institutional reform is more important than the infusion of capital. All these investments might come in, but if the institutions remain inefficient and corrupt, nothing will come out of it,” he said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

Mr. Lanzona said the Philippine government should not consider foreign investments as the “end-all or be-all” of development.

“Investments should enhance, not replace, our domestic resources. Technology transfer that will make use of our resources and spillover effects to the remote regions should be incorporated in these investments. Otherwise, not everyone will benefit from these investments,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Marcos assured Filipino-Chinese businessmen that the issues they raised during a courtesy call with him last year are already being “actively addressed by government.”

He said his government is now addressing barriers to the entry of foreign investments such as insufficient supply and high costs of electricity, which prompted him to amend implementing rules and regulations of the Renewable Energy Act. Under the revised rules, foreign ownership restrictions for certain renewable energy generation projects in the Philippines have been eased.

“Also, as part of the efforts to further streamline the business permit and licensing processes, we issued an executive order constituting green lanes for strategic investments,” he added.

Mr. Marcos promised to create an “enabling environment for businesses and make the Philippines a preferred investment destination for everyone.”

“In return, I only ask that you continue to do what you do best: to remain industrious, innovative, and compassionate in improving the lives of our people through your business initiatives.”

Out of the 20 billionaires in the Philippines, nine or 45% are of Chinese descent, according to a 2021 list by research firm Hurun Report.

A total of 160 Chinese companies were registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) as of 2022, contributing P25.446-billion investments or 0.94% of the total investments in PEZA.

FFCCCII members joined the state visit to China of former president Rodrigo R. Duterte, who led a foreign policy pivot to Beijing away from the United States and other Western partners. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza