Bloomberg News

Philippines Targets $10 Billion of Annual Foreign Investments

July 16, 2012

Philippine Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo

Gregory Domingo, Philippine trade secretary. Photographer: Edwin Tuyay/Bloomberg

The Philippines said it aims to boost foreign direct investments in call centers, factories and shipyards to more than $10 billion a year, as President Benigno Aquino strives to create jobs and bolster growth.

The Philippines received 24 business teams in the first half of the year from countries including Russia, Turkey and Japan, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said. Investors are keen on shipbuilding, agriculture, energy, steel, garments, and business process outsourcing, he said.

“The biggest thing that has improved our standing in the investment community globally has been President Aquino’s governance,” Domingo said in an interview in his office in Manila yesterday.

Aquino is winning confidence from investors and rating companies as he fights corruption and boosts infrastructure spending to transform the nation into a manufacturing hub in the region. Moody’s Investors Service boosted its outlook on the Philippines to positive in May, when the country’s top judge was impeached for illegally concealing his wealth, while Standard & Poor’s this month raised the long-term foreign currency- denominated debt rating to the highest level since 2003.

The $225 billion economy expanded 6.4 percent in the first quarter, the fastest pace since 2010, and the peso is the best performer against the U.S. dollar among Asia’s 11 most-traded currencies this year, having gained about 5 percent. The Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PCOMP) surged to a record this month.

The peso rose a third day today to 41.732 per dollar as of 9:27 a.m. in Manila. Benchmark bonds due March 2021 gained, with the yield falling to the lowest level since February, according to Tradition Financial Services.

’Tremendous Interest’

“When he first assumed office, there were still a lot of people who doubted he will really pursue” good governance, Domingo said. “But now, he has convinced everybody that he is sincere. We’ve seen tremendous interest in investment.”

From 1970 to 2010, the Philippines drew $33.98 billion in foreign direct investment compared to $322.13 billion for Singapore and $108.87 billion for Thailand, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

The Philippines lured about $6 billion in pledged foreign investments last year, and has drawn commitments from companies including Glencore International Plc and Gazasia Ltd. this year. Business groups from Mexico and Argentina are due to visit the country, Domingo said yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karl Lester M. Yap in Manila at kyap5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at sphang@bloomberg.net


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