'French companies eyeing Philippines after liberalizing investment climate'

Ramon Royandoyan - Philstar.com
'French companies eyeing Philippines after liberalizing investment climate'
A tug boat sails along the Pasig river before high-rise buildings of the Makati business district in Manila on May 29, 2022.
AFP / Maria Tan

MANILA, Philippines — French companies are bullish on investing in the Philippines as the national government eased restrictions on businesses, with some companies eyeing a foothold in building infrastructure.

Philippine Matiere, head of the Movement of the Enterprises of France delegation, said the move to liberalize the business climate in the country could prove beneficial for French companies.  

“I think that’s a very good decision for French companies because the French economy has a tradition of implementation in public services,” he told reporters at the sidelines of an economic forum organized by the French Embassy in Manila. 

MEDEF is the largest employer federation in France, with a membership of over 750,000 firms, mostly small and medium enterprises.

Matiere noted that "big" French companies such as Suez SA, Groupe ADP, and Engie SA, have a history in many countries. For him, these countries act for “the satisfaction of everybody, of the public.” 

The head of the MEDEF delegation noted these French companies are indeed eyeing to invest deeper in the Philippines. 

“ADP is a member of the delegation, will be interested in running the airports, which for the moment are either differently or not as efficiently run. I know that Suez SA is interested in working with Philippine companies with processes that need to be upgraded or civil works company that can build factories in which sewage water are turned into clean water by also using updated technology,” Matiere added.

Approved investments of France to the country retreated in 2020 according to government data. As it is, France ranks third as the country’s top trading partner in the European Union and places 17th in the list of Philippines’ trading partners. 

The Philippines took bold leaps in easing the conduct with which business is conducted around the country. The Duterte administration signed into law the Public Services Act, which liberalized foreign ownership for some economic sectors such as telecommunications, airlines, and railways. 

READ: What's in it for the economy if the Public Services Act is amended?

The national government likewise introduced tax relief measures for companies amid the pandemic. The Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises law was targeted to help companies steer their way out of pandemic fallout. 

RELATED: For recovery’s sake, Philippines rescues ‘dirty’ companies from pandemic hole

For Matiere, the legislation would enable companies to go and look for investment opportunities in the country, especially since Chinese investors “act after investing.” 

“They invest first and they do all the public service during a long-term period,” Matiere said.

The head of the MEDEF delegation likewise noted that if French companies do invest further in the Philippines, these businesses would have to implement a “directive” from French President Emmanuel Macron.

“Please replace made in France to made by France because we have to form a good percentage of the local content every time there is an intervention of a French company overseas,” he added. 

This optimism has been echoed by Michele Boccoz, the Ambassador of France to the Philippines. She said in the same briefing that there are 25 French companies visiting the country currently. 

While there are no firm investment pledges for next year, the French embassy noted there are over 120 subsidiaries of French companies in the Philippines. 

“The Philippines is a growth champion of the ASEAN,” she said. 

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