The Nordic-Philippine business community continues its optimism on the growth prospects of the Philippine economy. Speaking at the annual Nordic Ambassadors’ Luncheon at Fairmont Makati on November 17, NordCham President Bo Lundqvist challenged the business community to double the current €515 million worth of trade between the Nordic countries and the Philippines over the next five years.
Mr. Lundqvist outlines that Nordic companies want to participate in the future of the Philippines and in the 10-point economic agenda: “We want to build or transform our current businesses, transfer skills and technology, find business partnerships, outsource business processes, and engage in CSR. We believe that the Nordic countries have the right skills, technology and products to support the realization of the 10-point agenda”
Agriculture, infrastructure, energy, and ease of doing business key areas from the perspective of the Philippine private sector and government
Management Association of the Philippines President Perry Pe puts the focus on six key areas for development: infrastructure, energy, tax reform, ease of doing business, shift to federalism, agriculture, and resumption of the peace process. MAP together with the Department Trade and Industry (DTI) have been making headway with improving the ease of doing business in the country through “Project Repeal”, seeking to identify, repeal, or amend government issuance that hamper doing business in the Philippines. Mr. Pe also notes the administration’s renewed focus on agriculture and countryside development as possible areas of collaboration with the Nordic nations. Moreover, the success of peace process with communist rebels and secessionists in Mindanao will be a game changing development for the country, as this will open the floodgates of development in largely untapped areas of the country.
DTI Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo echoes the optimism over the ongoing peace process, and emphasizes the strong position of the country for investment, backed by the recent 7.1% GDP growth registered for 3Q 2016. Usec Rodolfo also reaffirms the business community that government will continue to push for more foreign investments in the country, noting that renewable energy, infrastructure, game development, and shipbuilding are industries in which the Philippines can springboard from the successes of the Nordic countries.
Nordic Ambassadors express their nations’ interest in doing more business in the Philippines
Danish Ambassador Jan Top Christensen views the government’s economic agenda as progressive, adding that the government’s plans in infrastructure, agriculture development, and research and innovation are areas where Danish business can engage with the Philippines. Ambassador-designate Harald Fries from the recently reopened Swedish embassy in Manila lauds the government’s effort to reform the current tax regime and expand foreign ownership restriction. According to Mr. Fries, Swedish businesses remain bullish on the Philippines thanks to its young, talented, English-speaking population which will continue to buoy the country’s economic growth.
Meanwhile, Norwegian Ambassador Erik Forner sees the 10-point agenda as ambitious and realistic, adding that positive developments in ease of doing business and foreign ownership restrictions are crucial. For his part, Finnish Ambassador Petri Puhakka sees opportunities to engage with the Philippines particularly in the fields of ICT, clean energy, and education.
NordCham has been organizing the annual Nordic Ambassadors’ Luncheon for the last four years to provide a platform to discuss trade and investment development between the Philippine and Nordic private and public sectors. NordCham President Bo Lundqvist concludes: Today, government and the business sector work hand in hand to achieve joint goals, more so than ever before. The positive engagement with business is specifically a hallmark of the Nordic governments, where the symbiosis between the two has created some of the most successful businesses and societies in the world over the years. We believe this is a model worth sharing with the Philippines in terms of good governance and practice.