The Philippines is inviting more Malaysian entrepreneurs and companies to invest in the country, specifically in emerging economic sectors prioritised by the government.
Commercial Attache at the Philippine Trade and Investment Centre (PTIC) in Kuala Lumpur Katrina Banzon said among the new sectors for investment opportunities that Malaysian investors can tap into include automation and digitalisation, infrastructure (cold chain facilities and ICT-related infrastructure), information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) and in the healthcare industry such as manufacturing of personal protective equipment (PPE) and vaccine manufacturing.
She said as Malaysia is an authority in the halal industry, the Philippine government also encouraged more halal-specific investments from Malaysia – from the food and beverages sector to Islamic banking – to help grow its halal market segment that is currently estimated to serve some 12 million Muslim Filipinos, as well as the non-Muslim population.
“We’d like to see and invite partners from Malaysia to invest in these sectors, especially where Malaysia has expertise,” she said in an interview with Bernama.
She said Malaysia’s current investments are mainly in the manufacturing, agribusiness, services infrastructure projects, property development and construction services and energy, while the renewable energy sector also have recently attracted high interests from Malaysian investors.
In 2020, Malaysia is ranked the 10th largest trading partner of the Philippines, registering total bilateral trade amounting to US$5.79 billion – with balance of trade in the favour of Malaysia.
In terms of investment, Malaysia is ranked at number 12 for source of approved investments, registering a growth of 43.90 per cent from previous year.
“Also, we are happy to share that despite the pandemic, many companies in Malaysia have signified interest in investing in and expanding their businesses in the Philippines,” she said.
According to the data from the Phillipines Central Bank, net foreign direct investment (FDI) from Malaysia to the Philippines in the first five months of this year totalled US$16.5 million – a 76.6 per cent growth (from the previous year) and placing Malaysia as the sixth source of FDI.
Banzon said the affirmative strategies taken by the government had put Philippine economy well on the road to recovery post-pandemic era.
In Nov last year, the government launched “Make it Happen in the Philippines”, an investment promotion programme that aims to attract inflow of investments in five priority sectors namely aerospace, automotive, electronics, copper and nickel, and IT-BPM.
With the pandemic and its economic impact, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) had further refined its priorities to rebuild the Philippine economy through the industrial strategy known as ReBUILD PH! (REvitalising BUsinesses, Investments, Livelihoods and Domestic Demand), which is aimed at jumpstarting and reinvigorating the economy by revitalising consumption and enhancing production capacity.
“Philippine exports have also sustained a rebound, better than pre-pandemic levels,” Banzon said.
She pointed out that Philippine’s recorded year-on-year (YOY) exports this year reached US$6.42 billion, which is higher than the pre-pandemic value of US$6.25 billion in 2019, while for the year-to-date (YTD) values, its exports in 2021 amounted to US$42.39 billion as compared to US$40.82 billion in 2019.
As for net FDI, the year-to-date amount stood at US$3.5 billion, which is 37.8 per cent higher than the US$2.53 billion recorded for the comparable period of 2020, and even slightly higher than the pre-pandemic 2019 level of US$3.4 billion, she added.
Meanwhile, unemployment rate is at 6.9 per cent in July 2021 – the lowest since the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020, she said.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the growth momentum of the Philippines, we are already seeing signs of recovery.
“This show, among other factors, the strong and stable Philippine economy and the resilient nature of the Filipinos – the main drivers of the country’s success,” she added.
The Philippines invites more investments from Malaysia in new growth sectors