European Chamber of Commerce warns RP vs sliding back to protectionism

Published by rudy Date posted on March 12, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is not insulated from the effects of the global crisis, and moving towards protectionism will just make the situation worse, the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP) said yesterday.

 “No country will be able to save its neck from the global crisis,” ECCP president Hubert D’Aboville said in a press conference yesterday.

D’Aboville said moves to pressure the government and the people to prioritize local goods over imported products will be a “disaster.” He said the crisis is a problem of everybody.

He said there would be no additional jobs if there are no new investments coming in the country as a result of the decision of the government to close its doors to trade.

D’Aboville said now is the time to revive moves to forge a free trade agreement with the European Union so Philippine goods can gain access to a bigger market. He noted that the country is being beaten by neighboring countries like Vietnam and Thailand in terms of foreign direct investment.

He said this is because of some government policies that are not conducive to foreign investments, like the limitations on foreign land ownership and not allowing foreign professionals to practice here.

ECCP cited the business process outsourcing, tourism and retirement as sunshine industries. The problem with BPO, he said, is that there is not enough marketing effort especially in Europe are inadequate.

ECCP will meet with the Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP) to address this concern and intensify the marketing campaign.

With regards to tourism, he said it is difficult to put in a big investment in hotels and resorts if the land cannot be under their name. Meanwhile, he said European doctors must be allowed to practice here in order to make the retirees more comfortable.

The Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) is asking the government to require all infrastructure projects to be funded by the P330 billion stimulus package to use locally made products even if it means increasing the project cost by 25 percent.

FPI president Jesus L. Arranza said lawmakers are hesitant to include the Buy Pinoy Buy Local in the economic stimulus package because it might send the wrong signal to other nations that the Philippines is advocating protectionism.

 “I talked to Malacanang and several congressmen and senators about this but they said we cannot do this because we are advocates of free trade,” Arranza said. “They are worried that there might be a backlash if we make buying local products a requirement.” – Ma. Elisa P. Osorio, Philippine Star

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