APEC meet to showcase Philippines as top investment site – AmCham
(The Philippine Star) - November 17, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines remains an investment favorite of the world’s largest economy with the outsourcing, tourism, and manufacturing sectors as primary targets by firms from the United States, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines’ (AmCham) top official said.

Rick Santos, AmCham Philippines president, is urging the Philippines to make the most of the world leaders’ visit to the country this week to showcase the investment opportunities it can offer to the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

“We think APEC is a great opportunity to showcase all that’s going well in the Philippines, but also some of the things that maybe the next president will need to think about in 2016,” Santos said in an interview on the sidelines of APEC CEO cocktails hosted by AmCham Philippines.

At present, Santos said, the interest of US firms in the Philippine business sector is not just bound to the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector but has expanded to the manufacturing and tourism sectors as well.

“Obviously, one of the great things the Philippines has going now is the demographics. Philippines and India are extremely strong. Some of the other big countries in Southeast Asia, their demographics aren’t nearly as good so it’s a great opportunity of the Philippines,” he said.

Santos, who also founded and chairs property consultancy services firm CBRE Philippines, said the country’s BPO sector is currently expanding at about six million square feet a year.

By 2018, he said it is expected to further grow by about 8.5 million square feet annually.

“We see continued interest from US companies for the outsourcing sector. But like Indonesia, the Philippines need to grow and keep expanding, not just from the outsourcing perspective but also in manufacturing. As we see, manufacturing is increasing, We see more Japanese companies coming here, but you also see continued interest from the US in the manufacturing side as well. With the skills you get in Asia, the cost effectiveness and labor arbitrage, US government is going to look for opportunities in manufacturing here,” Santos said.

“Tourism is also an area where there are great opportunities now. We see ourselves to potentially be the next Thailand of Southeast Asia. We have gaming companies coming here as well so that’s another bright spot in terms of hotels, tourism and leisure,” he added.

Santos said US President Barack Obama’s relatively frequent visit to the country is a testament of the US’ bullish outlook to the Philippine economy.

“It’s nice he’s spending so much time in the Philippines. It also shows the US government’s commitment to the Philippines to have such level of leaders like President  Obama  be here twice in 12 months’ time. That’s very positive for the country,” he said.

Obama arrived in Manila yesterday for the APEC Leaders’ Summit.

Santos hopes issues on infrastructure, education and security in the region would be tackled by the business leaders from the APEC economies once they meet for their high-level dialogue.

ACIRC AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE PHILIPPINES ASIA-PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION OBAMA PHILIPPINES PHILIPPINES AND INDIA PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA RICK SANTOS SANTOS SOUTHEAST ASIA THAILAND OF SOUTHEAST ASIA
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