MAKATI CITY -- Things are looking up for the Philippines as more Swiss firms have expressed their interest in investing in the country during the investment mission to Switzerland at the sidelines of the Philippines – European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the 5th Philippines – Switzerland Joint Economic Committee (JEC) Meetings in Switzerland on 9 – 13 January 2023.
“With no less than the President as the country’s number one salesperson in pitching the Philippines, the country’s improved business climate continues to soar high as several multinational companies ramp up their interests in setting up businesses in the country along with existing firms expanding their investment portfolios,” Trade Undersecretary and Board of Investments (BOI) Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo said as he led the first investment post-pandemic mission in Switzerland.
An initial US$24.7 million worth of Swiss investment commitments with a potential job generation of 475 were generated in the business meetings arranged by the BOI and Philippine Trade Investment Center (PTIC) in Geneva in Bern and Zug, Switzerland.
Undersecretary Rodolfo and the Philippine Team met with SATECO AG, a manufacturer of high-precision silicone keypads and silicone sensors, supplying big automotive players with a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in the Philippines. The company has committed to infuse US$9.7 million (Php530.5 million) for a state-of-the-art, high-performance production facility at the TECO Industrial Park, comprised of two stages with full implementation eyed for 2024.
The Philippine Team also met with Swiss startup company NaturLoop which has plans to launch a US$15 million Cocoboard factory in the Philippines by 2026. The company is currently developing a supply chain for coconut husks in Quezon province with local partners including ProSource International Inc. and Quezon Federation and Union of Cooperatives (QFUC).
During the 5th Philippines-Switzerland JEC Meeting, the BOI along with the private sector-led movement Digital Pilipinas pitched opportunities for priority sectors, which include IT-BPM, electronics, fintech, and contract research organization (CRO), in line with the country’s digital transformation efforts as part of the administration’s goal in keeping up with global innovations and boosting more economic activities.
“These initial investment commitments are promising as we look forward to the growing interest of Swiss firms in the Philippines and benefits from the game-changing reforms pursued by the Marcos administration such as the amendments to the Public Service Act (PSA), Retail Trade Liberalization Law (RTLA), Foreign Investment Act (FIA) and the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Renewable Act of 2008, the latter also allowing full foreign ownership in renewable energy, particularly in solar, wind and tidal RE” Undersecretary Rodolfo added. “There is now a greater demand for sustainability solutions in order to address impact of climate change; hence it is in the country’s interest to pursue investments in renewable energy and green projects,” he said.
The Philippine Team also visited the facility of OVD Kinegram, based in Zug, which specializes in the design, production, and supply of the KINEGRAM optical security feature to protect government documents and banknotes. Rodolfo stressed that the Philippines is one of the largest markets of the OVD Kinegram, particularly in the development of the National IDs that cover over 100 million people. The company is also working closely with the Bangko Sentral nang Pilipinas (BSP), Land Transportation Office (LTO), Social Security System (SSS), and Department of Education (DepEd) for securitized documents/ permits and licenses.
They also met with Glencore, a Swiss multinational mining company that owns 78 percent of the Philippine Associated and Refining Corp. (PASAR) which operates a copper smelting facility in Leyte.
“The combination of vast resources of critical green metals such as nickel, cobalt, and copper, the presence of suitable locations such as the Leyte Ecological Industrial (LEIZ), along with the government’s strong commitment and efforts on sustainability and rich human capital makes the Philippines a vital and reliable chain partner that enables investors to profitably serve customers regionally and globally,” Rodolfo pointed out.
From 2017 to the 3rd quarter of 2022, Swiss investment approval by the country’s investment promotion agencies (IPAs) reached Php1.4 billion. Notable BOI-approved Swiss investments include projects of Nestle, Avaloq, and CPW. As of 2021, Switzerland ranked as the Philippines’ 26th biggest trading partner (out of 224), 17th largest export market (out of 206), and 29th biggest import supplier (out of 211). Philippine exports to Switzerland grew by 17.3 percent in 2021 as it shipped US$528.2 million, up from US$450.4 million in 2020. (PEZA)