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Japanese firms eye Philippine investments but cite concerns

Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) – July 19, 2021 – 12:00am

Japanese electronics and medical device makers are looking to invest over $3 billion for expansion projects in the Philippines, but have cited some operational and fiscal bottlenecks.

In a statement, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Japanese firms discussed their interest to explore expansion and diversification projects, tentatively valued at over $3 billion, during a business dialogue organized by DTI commercial counselor Dita Angara-Mathay.

Firms that joined the meeting were Brother Industries, Canon Inc. and Seiko Epson Corp. which are engaged in the printer market, medical device manufacturers Terumo Corp. and JMS Co. Ltd., as well as other companies such as ROHM Co. Ltd. (integrated circuits), NIDEC Corp. and MinebeaMitsumi Inc. (micro DC motors), Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (ceramic capacitors) and IBIDEN (diesel particulate filter).

The companies, which have manufacturing operations in the Philippines, collectively represent $2.5 billion worth of investments and account for $6.9 billion exports and over 83,000 employment.

While the firms want to explore expansion projects in the country, their plans are facing challenges such as timely issuance of travel visas for their executives and engineers, the processing and release of permits and licenses by regulatory agencies, value-added tax and additional taxes by local government units and access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The DTI said the companies asked if the foreign investors with expansion plans may be given assistance through a green or express lane similar to those provided by other countries in Southeast Asia.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said these matters are being discussed with concerned government agencies to make sure the expansion plans push through.

The firms also expressed interest to shift to renewable energy sources for their operations and one of the locators requested for assistance as its major customer is requiring that its suppliers use fully renewable energy sources by 2023.

Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Management Bureau director Mylene Capongcol said the country is working on increasing the share of renewables to 35 percent by 2030 and more than half of the country’s power mix by 2040.

“As the Philippines builds back better from the pandemic, we will strengthen trade and investment ties with other countries, particularly Japan.