Quantcast
Latest Stories

Experts plug changing PH investment climate in confab

By

Tech titan Dado Banatao pitches the Philippines to prospective investors at June 14 conference in San Francisco. PHOTO by Harvey Barkin

SAN FRANCISCO–“So, is there still corruption in the Philippines?” The Chinese self-proclaimed would-be investor asked the panel of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, consular staff and guests Friday at the “Latitude Longitude Emerging Markets” conference at the Philippine Consulate on June 14.

“I want to do my research. Just a yes or no, please,” he insisted.

Until the question was posed, the outlook was positive at the conference that was part of the weekend celebration of Philippine Independence. The gathering brought together trade and business experts from the consulate, the Department of Trade and Industry and the non-profit Science & Technology Advisory Council (STAC)–Silicon Valley.

All were pitching for investments for Philippine industries. The rest of the daylong conference consisted of panels on start-ups, the web, apps, capital and global markets.

The consular staff’s response to the question was perfectly diplomatic. Besides, “investors must learn that Filipinos are non-confrontational,” said Regina Jacinto-Barrientos a partner at Puyat, Jacinto & Santos.

Lots of changes

Barrientos said, “There’s still corruption (in the Philippines) but there are also lots of changes in the system.”

But Dado Banatao, managing partner at Tallwood Venture Capital, Philippine Development Foundation chairman and keynote speaker addressed the elephant in the room: “You should worry more about China, where corruption is more casual.”

It was clear from the discussions that Filipino professionals and entrepreneurs are ramping up their effort to gain new ground as traditional technology and business leaders like Japan and Hong Kong falter in today’s economy.

STAC–Silicon Valley president Christina Lakowski reminisced about old times when STAC met with start-ups “in places like basketball courts and buildings without air-conditioners.”

Things have changed in more recent times, Trade Commissioner Michael Ignacio said. “My predecessor trade diplomats had to knock on doors of major companies. When I was in Brussels and London, some Europeans probably had never heard of the Philippines.”

But when Ignacio sent out a website blast about prospects in the Philippines, he was “blown away” by the number of replies and queries he got back.

Barrientos said, “For the past two years, there have been both a spike (in the number of) foreign investors and (in the number of) Filipinos formally presenting themselves as businessmen.”

New capital sources

Even the problem capital is different now. Barrientos explained, “We have funds from foreign sources in stocks, but what we need are funds for factories.”

AyalaLand country manager Bong Gutierrez put it this way: “We don’t need shirts and shoes in balikbayan boxes. We need investments.”

But Consul General Marciano Paynor Jr. noted that even capital sourcing was evolving. Infrastructure development used to be funded by the IMF or loans or grants from Australia or Japan. “Now it is internally funded.  Shoe Mart, now calling itself SMDC, funds constructions of highways and toll roads. San Miguel now maintains airports.”

Paynor also traced the country’s economic trajectory since the late President Cory Aquino restored democracy in 1986:

“Former President Fidel V. Ramos deregulated and liberated some industries (in the late 1990s.) He also privatized some state-owned corporations. When Joseph Estrada took over (in early 2000) he took goods from farms to road markets and developed irrigation systems. Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was instrumental in promoting toll roads and nautical highways. The value added tax reform law in 2005 gave 12 percent of what was sold to the government, providing it with needed funds. The current President Noynoy Aquino  brought about more schools, airports and a lmorer public- -private industry partnerships. There is also transparency, accessibility and good governance.”

With world news previously focused on graft and corruption, high-profile kidnappings for ransom and calamities like floods, volcano eruptions and earthquakes, only a few saw the Philippine economy’s steady climb to economic recovery. It was like sunlight bursting out of the clouds.

In fact, Stanford University’s Dr. Richard Dasher said, “The Philippines Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate increased from 6.6 percent last year to 7.9 percent. Compare that to the rest of the world at about 5.5 percent down to 3.3 percent. China’s GDP went from 9.5 percent to 7.5 percent.”

Lakowski referred to the BBB+ stable investment rating by Fitch, which rates countries by their credit rating, similar to Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s.

Youthful labor force

But perhaps the most noteworthy factor in the Philippine economy’s fast rise is its youth, Paynor said, noting that 50 percent of the population was younger than 25 years.

Barrientos added that 60 percent of the electorate would be 25 years old by 2016. “They are connected and mobile with information available at their fingertips.” When they vote for the new three-year term president, it would be with the mind set for new values, trends and a fresh business outlook.

Dasher said, “What’s exciting about the Philippines is that its young people are very entrepreneurial. From 2000 to 2010, the number of IT students enrolled in universities rose from 26,000 to 45,000 a year. These are not caregivers anymore.”

Still, Dasher cautioned, “The median income in China is about $12,000 a year. Compare that to the Philippines’ at $4,500 a year.”

Away from knock-offs

Dennis Fernandez, STAC–Sunnyvale president, pointed out a paradigm shift in knock-offs. The Philippines, he reported, was “investing to be a center of patent research, to understand previous technology in collaboration with ASEAN patent office.”

Trade Commissioner Ignacio added that the country had signed on to the Madrid Protocol to get trademark protection for most of the world.

The Philippines contributes more contents in creative industries, Paynor added, reporting that the U.S. subcontracts a lot of software requirements to the Philippines.

“We brought together Pixar founding member Ralph Guggenheim, filmmaker Eli Noyes and Cartoon Network’s Dave Barry (in 2012) with some University of the Philippines mass communication students. And they were amazed by the raw talent.”


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: capital , financing , Investment , Philippine economy , Technology , trade

  • disqusted0fu

    You can quote the President to answer the question if there’s still corruption. Pnoy said that “if there’s no corrupt, there will be no poor”. And with the more or less 28 million poor people in the PH, that just says it all



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • Malang the croc must regain strength before return to swamp, says mayor
  • Palace: Lacson’s version of Napoles testimony to be evaluated
  • Scientists eye iceberg bigger than Guam
  • Drilon: I’m not on Napoles’ list
  • Sonar finds 1888 San Francisco shipwreck
  • Sports

  • Promoters Dela Hoya, Arum in talks for Pacquiao-Alvarez—report
  • Benzema guides Madrid to 1-0 win over Bayern
  • Suns’ Goran Dragic win NBA’s Most Improved Player award
  • Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97
  • Ronaldo shakes off injury fears to play Bayern
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Cost-recovery provisions for affected gencos urged
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
  • Marketplace