Singapore companies head to fast-growing Philippines

The Philippines was ranked last month by Fitch Ratings as South-east Asia's fastest growing economy.
The Philippines was ranked last month by Fitch Ratings as South-east Asia's fastest growing economy. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

SINGAPORE - A 22-member delegation from Singapore is headed to the Philippines on Tuesday (August 1), as interest grows amongst Singapore companies in one of Asia's most promising economies.

The Singapore Business Federation has teamed up with International Enterprise (IE) Singapore and the Philippine Trade and Investment Centre to organise the business mission from Aug 1 to 4 to Manila and Davao City.

The Philippines was ranked last month by Fitch Ratings as Southeast Asia's fastest growing economy - a crown the ratings agency said it is likely to hold for the next five years.

It said that the Philippines will grow at an average of 6.6 per cent for the next five years, ahead of Vietnam's 6.1 per cent, Indonesia's 5.1 per cent, and Singapore's 2.9 per cent.

SBF Council member and chief executive of Keppel Corporation Mr Loh Chin Hua, who also serves as co-chairman of the Philippines-Singapore Business Council (PSBC), will be leading the trip. The 22 delegates arefrom the government, finance as well as technology sectors, said the SBF.

The delegates will be exploring business and networking opportunities in both cities, participating in a PSBC forum in Manila. They will also attend a Davao-Mindanao Singapore Business Forum in Davao City to gain insights into the investment opportunities under the Philippines' new political leadership.

Singapore is the Philippines' fourth-largest trading partner, with total trade between the two countries amounting to $15.5 billion last year.

In a 2016-2017 SBF National Business Survey, the Philippines was the seventh most popular market which SBF member-companies said they were interested in venturing into.

Mr Loh said he was pleased to see the success of many Singapore companies in the Philippines.

"Through this mission, we hope to further strengthen the close economic ties between the two countries and to encourage more Singapore companies to explore new business opportunities in the Philippines."

Mr. Glenn Peñaranda, Commercial Counsellor of Philippine Trade & Investment Centre-Singapore, said the Philippines welcomes the SBF-IE mission as it will "further deepen longstanding commercial ties between the Philippines and Singapore."

He highlighted new prospects for Singapore companies in Manila and Davao in infrastructure, logistics, information technology, property development and agribusiness.

The visit to Davao City, the largest local economy in Southern Philippines, reflects the Singapore Government's call to encourage Singapore companies to look beyond capital cities.

Mr Ivan Tan, IE Singapore's group director for Southeast Asia and Oceania, noted the "tremendous opportunities" in the Philippines in the areas of consumer goods and infrastructure.

"We encourage Singaporecompanies to look beyond Manila as the current administration has put regional development as one of its priorities.

He noted that the exploratory trip to Davao city was very"timely", adding that IE Singapore will " continue to work with SBF and the PSBC to help Singapore companies access business opportunities in the Philippines' fast-growing regions."

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte was formerly mayor of Davao city for more than two decades, and has been credited for turning Davao from a Wild West into a relatively prosperous and stable haven in the conflict-ridden South.

Correction note: This story has been edited to provide the correct figure for total trade between Singapore and the Philippines, which was $15.5 billion last year.