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PH eyed as manufacturing hub

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A congresswoman said the Philippines should be promoted as an alternative to China manufacturing in the aftermath of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera said the government should seize the opportunity to become an alternative investment destination as foreign companies seek to reduce reliance on China as a manufacturing base following the Covid-19 outbreak and the concomitant supply disruption.

“The government should take a more aggressive approach to convince firms seeking to move out of China that the Philippines is a good alternative for them given our unique competitive advantage, highly-skilled manpower and improved ease of doing business,” Herrera said.

“This is a golden opportunity for the Philippines to up its game in securing more foreign direct investment projects to shore up the economy battered by a two-month community quarantine to contain the spread of Covid-19,” she added.

She suggested the eastern portion of Bulacan province as a possible site for future manufacturing facilities.

“The eastern portion of Bulacan is an example of its viability where there are vast lands available for development into an industrial city of more or less 40,000 hectares. It has its own source of power and water, near the power grid, and has existing access roads,” Herrera said.

She said an executive order or a presidential proclamation can be put in place for such policy, stressing the need for the country to attract foreign direct investments that would generate mass employment.

“The need to create mass employment is now even more urgent after the Covid-19 crisis left at least 2.5 million Filipinos jobless,” she said.

Herrera noted that the government has made significant progress in addressing critical issues that have hampered the country’s investment climate and the competitiveness of local firms, particularly that of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

She said the Philippines has improved its attractiveness for investors with the enactment of the Ease of Doing Business law, which makes the process of putting up and running a business in the country easier and more efficient.

She, however, urged the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to offer more attractive incentives to lure foreign investors.

“We have to make sure we are competitive and allow PEZA and the executive department to offer concessions if need be,” Herrera said. “They have to be flexible enough that when attracting companies they can go on a trade mission, and offer land, infrastructure, and leeway on taxes and fees.”

The Philippines was ranked as the seventh-best country in the world to invest in or do business for 2020, according to CEO Magazine.

In an article posted on its website on April 29, the CEO Magazine said the Philippines got a total score of 81.5 based on the report released by CEOWORLD in February when some countries have already reported confirmed cases of Covid-19.

The CEOWORLD study analyzed 80 countries according to business and investment environments. Corruption, freedom, workforce, investor protection, infrastructure, taxes, quality of life, red tape, and technological readiness were among the factors taken into consideration.

The Philippines scored high in terms of a constitutional framework (94.9), education, and research (94.8), market potential (92.8), and trade openness (91.3).

Economic stability (69.8), the skilled labor force (64.61), and government policies (62.54) were also measured.

Singapore topped the list of most attractive nations for investors and business people followed by the UK, Poland, Indonesia, and India.

Australia was in 6th place followed by the Philippines, the US, Malaysia, and the Czech Republic. 

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