TOKYO, Japan—President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday asked Japanese investors to participate in the administration’s ambitious Build Build Build infrastructure program.
Speaking before the Japanese and Filipino investors during the signing of agreements between Philippine and Japanese businesses, President Duterte expressed his elation over the strong intention of Japanese business entities to invest and expand their operations in the Philippines.
He wanted them to join the infrastructure development in the Philippines through the Build Build Build program. The President’s tenure is considered the golden age of infrastructure development in the country.
“Further, we invite Japanese participation in our game-changing Build Build Build infrastructure program…which we aim to build inclusive and innovative industries and transform our economic archipelago into an integrated economic space,” the President told Japanese investors.
“With our sound macro-economic policies and [ongoing] reforms, we guarantee a competitive and corruption-free—and I repeat, we guarantee a competitive and corruption-free business climate, and a highly skilled and fast-learning workforce,” he said.
He noted that Standard and Poor’s (S&P) has upgraded the Philippines’ credit rating to BBB+ with a positive outlook, which is the highest rating in the country’s history. S&P’s recent upgrade is only a notch below the credit rating of A.
“Given all these, your investments are assured of protection and gains…I guarantee that,” he said. “And as a matter of fact, I place my honor in what we promised to our partners, especially the Japanese people.”
Assuring further Japanese businesses, he said his government is firmly committed to maintaining a stable and predictable environment for robust business partnerships between the Philippines and Japan.
Japan has been a major source of foreign direct investments for the Philippines and also its key trading partner, the second largest, in 2018.
Increased trade and investment flows are expected in the next few years, thanks to the strong momentum generated by decades of deep economic cooperation.
The country’s natural economic complementarities, accelerated by current efforts to lower trade barriers, are expected to sustain them.
Japan is also the first and only country with which the Philippines has forged a bilateral free trade agreement—the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement or JPEPA signed in 2006.
The bilateral trade agreement is currently under review, with the Philippine government hoping to upgrade it to a higher level of preferential arrangement mutually beneficial for both countries.
Among the Philippines’ priorities is addressing economic market access for Philippine agricultural products such as bananas, mangoes, and pineapples, as well as service suppliers in the construction of projects.
The Philippines is also working with the Japanese government to improve the current framework for the deployment of Filipino nurses and health workers.
The Philippines is a natural choice for Japanese companies looking for a manufacturing base in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region and aiming to serve the export markets of ASEAN, European Union (EU), and the Americas. These markets have preferential tariff arrangements with the Philippines.
Aside from manufacturing, the Philippines is also an ideal base for high-value knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) ventures that support global operations of Japanese companies.
The President arrived in Japan Tuesday to participate in Nikkei’s 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia. He will address the conference Friday. PND