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Focus on Philippine economy, not politics, says ECCP

MANILA, Philippines - The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) is urging new investors from Europe to focus on Philippine economic aspects rather than political developments as disagreement over human rights issues between the Philippine government and the European Union (EU) continues to escalate.

Last week, chief presidential legal adviser Salvador Panelo advised the European Parliament to mind its own business, while Congress slammed the group for interfering even on issues like the reorganization of committee chairmanships.

The statements from the Philippine side was in reaction to a joint resolution issued by the European Parliament last Thursday calling for support from EU member-nations in the establishment of a probe at the UN Human Rights Council into the “unlawful killings and other violations” in the Philippines.

“We are working with current member companies, and advise incoming potential investors on the economic side, not the political aspects,” ECCP president Guenter Taus told The STAR.

 “To start with, reading the full EU joint motion for resolution, it becomes clear that these are matter of fact issues on current affairs in the Philippines. There is no mention nor threats for removal of any privileges nor ceasing of any negotiation,” he added.

 The ECCP has reported in previous months about a number of European investors having second thoughts in the country given President Duterte’s unsettling rhetoric and the alleged cases of extrajudicial cases in the country.

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Two potential investors in the manufacturing and information technology sectors, in particular, have reportedly canceled expansion plans in the country, dashing hopes for the creation of 4,000 to 5,000 more jobs for Filipinos.

“While it is surely not easy to circumnavigate political aspects all together, companies established here do understand and can segregate business from politics. This is of course more difficult to verbalize toward new potential investors, but this is our mandate and reason for being here, so we will just continue doing what we have been doing for 40 years, namely service and advise our member and investors,” Taus said.

Taus said ECCP, as a bilateral chamber focus on business, has worked with all Philippine governments for four decades and will continue to do so under the current and future administrations.

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