The local business community yesterday expressed hope that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s five-day official visit to Washington would yield more than just closer defense ties, but would open up fresh investment opportunities between the age-old allies.
In an interview, Jesus Arranza, chairman of the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), said the Philippine leader should invite more American investments in the local manufacturing sector.
He said the Philippine economy would benefit greatly if fresh foreign investments are geared towards the manufacture of high-value finished goods, instead of merely exporting raw materials or intermediate goods for further processing overseas.
“The President should target investors who are willing to bring in money, in the true sense of investment, and not those who will come in and borrow capital from local financial institutions,” he added.
Arranza also expressed confidence that the Marcos-Biden meeting will result in a more militarily capable Philippines, saying “each country has the right to defend themselves with the help of friends.”
For his part, Francis Chua, chairman and founder of the International Chamber of Commerce’s local arm, said the mere deployment of more US troops here already promises to infuse a huge amount of foreign exchange into the local economy.
He said that American servicemen who will be stationed in the Philippines, either on brief or extended tours of duty, will surely end up supporting the domestic tourism, retail, food, and hospitality industries through the dollars they will be spending.
“They (US troops) have a lot of money, which they will spend in hotels, restaurants, malls and other establishments. This will also create many new job opportunities for Filipinos, who will cater to new customers with plenty of disposable income,” he said.
Chua, who is also chairman emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), said Marcos should also take advantage of his meeting with Biden, and the warmer bilateral relations it heralds to promote the Philippines as an investment hub.
Meanwhile, Henry Lim Bon Liong, the past president of the Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FCCCI), said that despite the defense-centered nature of Marcos’ US visit, it can also serve as a springboard for enhanced American investments in local agriculture.
He urged the President to seek out investors who can introduce to the Philippines new technologies in soy bean and corn farming.
He added soy, in particular, has a very healthy export demand if local farmers can produce it in sufficient quantities.
“The US is very advanced in agriculture, and they can help us a lot,” said Bon Liong, who is a local proponent of hybrid rice cultivation.*PNA