JAPANESE business owners in the country assured that they will continue to expand their respective businesses in the Philippines.
This is in support and reassurance of Japan Prime Minister Akiko Abe’s $9 billion worth of official development assistance (ODA) and private investments pledges made last January.
“When you look at the current situation, especially on the first year of the Duterte administration, major existing Japanese companies in the Philippines located in PEZA (economic zones) have continued to invest in expanding capacity. This fact is not open to the media, of course due to privacy, but in reality the investment by Japanese companies has incremented very, very aggressively,” said Hiroshi Shirashi, president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, in a speech delivered yesterday during the 43rd Philippine Business Conference and Expo.
Aside from multinational Japanese companies in the Philippines, Shirashi said Japan’s small and medium enterprises (SME) companies are also interested to invest in the Philippines.
Marked by abundant labor supply and cheap cost, English fluency, competitive incentives, and growth of domestic markets, the Japanese chamber official said foreign SMEs would like to do business in the country, too, especially those in food processing, packaging, agriculture financing, logistics, and warehousing.
“These days, more and more SMEs in Japan have very strong interest in the Philippine market because Japanese market is so mature and they have labor problems,” the JCCI official said. The Japanese chamber is composed of 850 firms.
“They want to see some partnerships with Philippine companies,” he added.
However, Shirashi asked that rules on foreign ownership be easedto entice more Japanese investors and business owners to expand in the country.
He also expressed support for the administration’s comprehensive tax reform program, although he underscored the need to retain the zero VAT provision for PEZA locators, amid impending danger of having them undergo a VAT refund scheme.
A study conducted by the Japan Bank on Industrial Cooperation (JBIC) in 2016 showed 49 percent of Japanese manufacturing companies said “plans do exist” for the Philippines, ahead of China at 48.8 percent.