MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines will greatly benefit from the approval of the ASEAN-European Union (EU) Free Trade Agreement (FTA) because there are a lot of products that the local producers can sell to the European market, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) said.
In a press conference, ECCP president Hubert D’Aboville said the Philippines is not using its full potential in exporting to Europe. For example, he said the demand for chickens in Europe is more than half a million tons. The country could get a part of this market, he said.
D’Aboville said now is the time to revive moves to forge a free trade agreement with the European Union in order for the country to sell its goods in 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 noted that this is because of some government policies that are not conducive to foreign investments like the limitations to foreign land ownership and not allowing foreign professionals to practice here.
In spite of this, he said the country can promote its sunshine industries like tourism, retirement and the business process outsourcing (BPO).
He noted that the tourism industry in the country is underdeveloped. When fully cultivated, he said the multiplier effect of investments here would be big because not only will investors come in to infuse money in hotels, resorts and infrastructures it will also generate employment and income for surrounding industries.
However, he said it is difficult to put in big ticket investments in the country because according to the law, foreigners are not allowed to own land in the country.
For the BPO, he said there is not much promotion for Philippine BPOs in Europe. Most companies go to India because the government does not make an effort to invite European firms to transfer their back office operations here.
The retirement, he said is a big opportunity for the Philippines because he said the worldwide recession has forced Europeans to look for places wherein they can get more value for their money.
Also, he said the favorable climate and the friendly nature of the Filipinos make the country conducive for retirement.
The downside to the retirement village he said is that foreign doctors are not allowed to practice in the country. He said Europeans may be more comfortable with their own doctors. He said this is one of the reasons why there are some who hesitate to make the Philippines their home upon retirement.–Ma. Elisa P. Osorio, Philippine Star