European firms keen on PH infra opportunities, other sectors

European companies are keen on participating in Philippine infrastructure projects and investing in different sectors, as they called on the country to make its business environment friendlier for them.

European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) executive director Florian Gottein said on Monday that contractors and companies from Europe are more interested to participate in some projects under the Build, Build, Build program, particularly in mass transportation systems.

(And) also in providing technologies, services. Some of them are already here and participating in these projects, Gottein said at a briefing.

Nabil Francis, ECCP president and chief executive officer of Republic Cement Services, Inc., considered the government's Build, Build, Build program a silver lining of the cloud amid the country's traffic problem.

This is an ambitious plan and we believe that this is the right one, he said.

Francis also underscored the need to attract more foreign investments into the Philippines by addressing the issue on how long it takes to open a new business here.

You ought to remove the bureaucracy to become investor-friendly, or the restrictions. So how do we open it a little bit to other companies, such as European companies, they have a lot to bring. And also the infrastructure. Infrastructure is a key concern to us, especially the traffic is getting worse and worse, he added.

Apart from the infrastructure program, Gottein said some European firms are also interested to participate in the logistics, transportation, health care, energy, and environment sectors.

So I think, there is a lot of expertise, knowhow, technologies, services, which European companies can provide to help the Philippines address many of those issues, he said in an interview, referring to the traffic problem, water shortage experienced in some parts of the country earlier this year, and solid waste management issue.

Gottein further said they can also contribute in the hotel or hospitality industry, as well as airline business.

And also tourists itself from Europe are coming here in the Philippines, I think it is also increasing. Last year, we have more than 500,000 tourist arrivals from the European Union, which I think is something that the Philippines wants to boost further since European tourists tend to stay longer and spend more compared to other nations, he added.

However, Gottein said other European companies adopt a wait-and-see attitude, pending the approval of the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Reform Act (CITIRA).

The second package of the comprehensive tax reform program, CITIRA aims to reduce corporate income tax and rationalize tax incentives.

Whatever is being passed, at least companies know then what the environment will look like, what the business environment will look like, how the tax reform will go about, the CIT (corporate income tax) reduction, as well as when it comes to the incentives. And based on that decision, they will make their own choices and decisions if they want to further expand here, if they want to explore other investment destinations in the Asean region, he said.

Meanwhile, the European-Philippine Business Summit, carrying the theme Trade, Investment, and Development: Building a Sustainable Future Together, is scheduled to take place at the Marriot Grand Ballroom on October 24.

Francis said this year's Summit will feature business opportunities and policy recommendations on human capital, health care, infrastructure and transportation, energy, and environment through various sessions.

The ECCP will also present its 2019 advocacy papers, a compilation of policy recommendations to further create a level playing field and improve ease of doing business in the country.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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