Singaporean companies have been invited to invest in the Philippines to ride on the expected return of the economy to pre-pandemic levels.
“I would like to assure you that notwithstanding Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), the Philippines remains to be a conducive place to do business. It is still considered one of the top emerging economies and countries that can provide great value for your investments,” Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Joseph Del Mar Yap said in a webinar.
He said economic managers have projected the Philippine economy will return to the pre-pandemic levels next year by growing 7 to 8 percent, as it undertakes an aggressive national vaccination program and adopts a safe and gradual reopening strategy.
To make doing business in the country more convenient, Yap said the Philippine government has been implementing strategic policy reforms, including the implementation of the ease of doing business law, the creation of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), and the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) law reducing income tax from 30 percent to 20 to 25 percent.
“This is definitely a big step forward (as) it cuts the income tax of the Philippines, which has historically been one of the highest in the region, to a rate that is competitive with its neighbors,” he added.
Yap said that despite the pandemic, investments amounted to almost P10 billion or US$201 million last year, making Singapore the country’s fourth top investment source.
Anna Rellama, Director and Philippine Country Manager of advisory firm YCP Solidiance, said some sectors including healthcare, information communications technology (ICT), finance, agriculture, construction, and infrastructure proved to be more resilient to the pandemic.
“For those of you hoping to participate within the Philippine large energy and power sector, now may be (is) the best time to get started as the impact of the energy efficiency and conservation law is expected to be felt from this year,” she said.
Rellama said construction and accommodation and food services historically have exhibited the highest growth.
“…So if you have interests in these sectors, do not wait until the pandemic is over because a lot of activities are actually also happening now,” she added. “The best way forward for now is to cooperate and partner with local players that can facilitate your growth during this difficult time.”
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Assistant Secretary Nicanor Bautista, who currently heads DTI’s Foreign Trade Service Corps (FTSC), said the CREATE law also provides certain flexibility to the government to more aggressively attract strategic investments into priority areas.
Bautista said the government is prioritizing investments in smart manufacturing, infrastructure development including those for power and telecommunications, agriculture, and information technology and business process management (IT-BPM), among others.
“We are also looking at opportunities in data centers for hyperscalers and then of course we are inviting investments into healthcare, PPE (personal protective equipment) manufacturing, (and) pharmaceuticals particularly those in vaccine co-manufacturing,” he added.