MANILA, Philippines – The country can expect a lower level of investments from American firms this year, not only due to the global recession but also because of investor concerns that remained unresolved.
Robert Sears, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said American firms were still keen on investing in the country, particularly in the areas of information technology, food, agribusiness and manufacturing.
There had been, however, fewer inquiries in the first four months of the year vis-à-vis last year, he told reporters at the sidelines of the Amcham general membership meeting yesterday.
Sears said the flow of investments into the Philippines has been slower than the infusion into its neighboring countries.
“The Philippines has to look at what it can do to become more competitive,” he said.
Among the biggest concerns that American firms had, he said, involved the restriction on foreign ownership of real estate, antiquated labor laws, high power rates and inadequate infrastructure.
“Anything that will make investors more competitive is a good thing. We’d like to see the possibility of foreign investors going 100 percent (in terms of land ownership),” he said. “There’s a very long list of concerns that American firms have. Those are just some of (the issues on that list).”
Politics, although perceived by many as a hindrance to investments, actually did not play that big a role in convincing or dissuading American firms from infusing capital here, he said.
Talks about Charter change and the possibility of not pushing through with the elections next year, he said, were not even on the list of concerns of prospective investors.
“Some (have adopted) a wait-and-see stance, but those who know the market, they’re not at all concerned,” he said.
“There are less people coming here, but there are those who are still coming and taking a look (at the Philippines). Hopefully we’ll see them here when the turnaround happens, which should be late this year or next year,” he added.–Abigail L. Ho, Philippine Daily Inquirer