Manila Standard | 24 November 2008
Japanese firms plan to transfer to Philippines
By Roderick T. dela Cruz
TOKYO — A number of Japanese firms have expressed intention to move their businesses to the Philippines once the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement takes effect next month, an official said yesterday.
“The Philippines is now considered a good destination for Japanese investors because of the [agreement],” said Ramon Baltazar, the Philippines’ special trade representative.
He made the statement at the sidelines of a ceremony at the Osaka Hilton Hotel to mark the inaugural flight of budget carrier Cebu Pacific to Osaka from Manila on Nov. 20.
The Philippines-Japan treaty gives preferential treatment to Filipino and Japanese nationals on manufacturing and trade, and allows the movement of Filipino labor and services to Japan.
The treaty takes effect on Dec. 11 this year, more than two years after President Arroyo and former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi signed it in September 2006.
Japan’s parliament ratified the treaty in 2007, but the Philippine Senate approved it only in October this year.
Baltazar said four Japanese manufacturing companies were expected to build their plants within the special economic zones in Batangas, Laguna or Cavite within the next three to six months.
Those companies were Kazuki Polymer, which makes windmill components; Sanko Metals, which produces solar cells; Japan Rebuilt, which makes automotive parts; and Wako Co., which produces bathroom and kitchen fixtures, Baltazar said.
Seven other Japanese firms were now looking at the Philippines as a cheaper manufacturing site amid the global economic slowdown, he said.
The Japanese economy contracted 0.4 percent in the third quarter, and the strong yen is pushing Japanese firms’ costs and making their products more expensive abroad.
The Philippines is particularly encouraging Japanese investors to make their products in the Philippines for export, or to supply Philippine-based companies needing parts and components.
Philippine Ambassador to Japan Domingo Siazon said Japanese companies were now preferring the Philippines over other Asian countries such as China and Vietnam as an investment site.
“Japanese perception of the Philippines has changed with [the agreement],” Siazon said at the launching of a tourism campaign presided by Tourism Secretary Ace Durano and Undersecretary Eduardo Jarque at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo over the weekend.
“Japan is a very important market for us,” Durano said, adding 216,114 Japanese tourists visited the Philippines in the first seven months of 2008.
He said Cebu Pacific was optimistic the treaty would lead to more people traveling between the two countries, adding 28,000 passengers were expected to take the carrier’s Manila-Osaka service in its first year of operations.
Philippine Airlines also flies to Osaka, Tokyo, Nagoya and Fukuoka from Manila, as well as to Osaka from Cebu.