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S'pore firms 'can be part of Philippine success story'

Publication Date : 05-04-2014


Businesses in Singapore are now presented with opportunities "to be part of the Philippine success story, and vice-versa", President Tony Tan Keng Yam said, citing the growth momentum set in motion by the administration of Philippine leader Benigno Aquino.

In a speech before members of the Philippine-Singapore Business Council (PSBC) yesterday, Dr Tan said the Philippine economy "has performed remarkably well over the past few years".

This, he said, has generated "great interest" among companies in Singapore looking for opportunities to expand abroad.

"There will be many opportunities for Singapore businesses to be part of the Philippine success story, and vice-versa," he added.

International Enterprise (IE) Singapore conducted seven business trips to the Philippines, and hosted six similar visits from the Philippines last year alone.

"I expect this number to grow, as more Singapore professionals and entrepreneurs venture here to tap the Philippines' growth potential," said Dr Tan.

IE Singapore also established an overseas centre in Manila three months ago to help businesses in Singapore navigate the business environment in the Philippines.

The Philippine economy grew 7.2 per cent last year, and the International Monetary Fund expects this upward trajectory to continue in the next few years.

Long-term foreign investments, meanwhile, surged 20 per cent to US$3.9 billion last year, and exports in January grew 9.3 per cent to US$4.38 billion.
PSBC co-chairman Loh Chin Hua, chief executive of Keppel Corp, said there is optimism among Singapore businessmen about the Philippine economy.

"We can certainly see a renewed sense of optimism and confidence, and these are all very positive for the Philippine economy," he said. "It augurs well for Singapore businesses coming to the Philippines."

Loh noted Singapore corporate brand names like SingTel, Ascott, Somerset, YCH, Charles & Keith and BreadTalk "are doing well in the Philippines".

Philippine companies like Jollibee and Ayala Corp, in turn, are making "profitable inroads" into the Singapore market.

Guillermo Luchangco, Loh's Philippine counterpart in PSBC, said national elections in 2016 would not derail the growth momentum set in motion by the Aquino government. "I think 2016 is a political matter that would have to work itself out, but I don't think it is going to affect the business climate," he said.

Earlier yesterday, Dr Tan witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding to broaden Singapore's efforts to help Philippines rehabilitate areas devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan last November.

Dr Tan also presented a cheque of more than S$7 million (US$5.5 million) in donations to partners of the Singapore Red Cross to help the relief and rehabilitation efforts.

"I hope that our contributions, which are but a small gesture of friendship and solidarity with the Filipino people, will make a difference in the lives of the communities affected by typhoon Haiyan," said Dr Tan, who arrived in the Philippines on Wednesday and leaves tomorrow.

The donations are expected to help some 1.5 million Haiyan victims in central Philippines rebuild their lives, with projects slated for schools, health-care facilities, medical equipment and supplies, water and sanitation, and houses.


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