By Azer Parrocha
MANILA — The Philippines is expected to sign at least 10 business agreements during President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s trip to Japan by end of May.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said that these deals are expected to allow Japanese companies to invest in the Philippines by expanding their businesses here.
“So far we have mga two MOUs (memoranda of understanding) and around eight letters of intent. In other words, companies are already here that are intending to expand their operation, invest more, expand the operations,” Lopez told reporters in an interview on Thursday.
Lopez said that these Japanese companies have decided to invest in the Philippines as an expression of their “support and confidence” for the current administration.
He noted that the deals included investments in electronics, manufacturing, data analytics, some services, AI field, tourism related, and transportation.
The Trade chief could not yet give an estimate as to the amount these investments would generate but assured that they will be “substantial”.
“Substantial, substantial. The big companies that are here, investment-wise they invest in a big way,” Lopez said.
He described the trade relations between the Philippines and Japan as a strong one. In particular, he said the Philippines remains to be Japan’s biggest supplier of bananas.
“Since Japan is the big brother, the advanced economy, we’re asking them to open up all their markets,” Lopez said.
Currently, he said the government is working towards the reduction in the tariff rate to gain more access in the Japanese market.
“We’ve seen that their tariff rates for other countries are lower, so sabi namin, babaan na rin natin (so we said, let’s reduce them),” Lopez said.
Duterte is set to attend the International Conference on the Future of Asia on May 30-31. This will be Duterte’s third visit to Japan since he assumed the presidency. He first visited Japan in 2016 and again in 2017.
Lopez said during the conference, Duterte will be talking to the business sector, discussing the country’s gains including the credit rating upgrade, the reforms that are expected to attract more investments as well as security and anti-corruption measures. (PNA)