ECCP eyes 60 business areas outside Metro Manila

November 15, 2016

The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) has identified at least 60 towns, cities and provinces outside the confines of congested Metro Manila as having the comparative advantage in terms of attracting foreign and local investments and hosting business.

The ECCP has been working with various stakeholders, including local officials, private sector and civil-society organizations in various towns and cities over the last three years, through the Partnership for Integrity and Job Creation Project (Project I4J), according to Henry J. Schumacher, senior advocacy advisor of ECCP. He said the project basically aims to promote a business-friendly environment outside of the metropolis.

The members of the consortium have signed an Integrity Pledge to promote transparency and good governance, which, according to the ECCP, is the first step in promoting a business-friendly environment.

The consortium members of Project I4J will host the first local government unit (LGU) business summit on November 22 to bring together key players in the business sector to promote trade and commerce in partnership with LGUs.

With the theme “Towards Integrity and Global Competitiveness: A Dialogue on Good Governance Solutions for Inclusive Growth,” the summit aims to gather representatives from the local government, local and international business sectors and civil-society groups to engage in a constructive dialogue to address the issues that LGUs encounter and identify areas for collaboration.

During the event, the Philippine Local Government Integrity Circle  Network —a network which is committed in ensuring good governance and transparency in local governance—will be introduced in a bid to expand and enjoin participation, said Gerry D. Constantino, ECCP director for Projects and Sector Advoacy Events.

He said that, with Project I4J coming to an end, the ECCP plans to continue its engagement with the LGU to make business and LGU, along with other stakeholders, closer, to promote inclusive growth.

The comparative advantage of these 60 localities, he said, lies on the promise to be transparent; stop graft and corruption; and cut red-tape to make business a breeze in their respective towns, cities  and provinces.

For instance, he said, if the LGUs promised to shorten time in processing business permits, it should be able to deliver.  A key ingredient, he said, is narrowing the communication gap between the key players in the LGU, the business sector, and civil-society organizations to address challenges and issues for better jobs and employment, bringing about inclusive growth

The summit’s main objective is to increase global competitiveness and promote integrity in the Philippines, to create more investment-friendly environment for business outside Metro Manila.

Schumacher said the ECCP is promoting the 60 localities because of the commitment made by key players to promote a business-friendly environment, starting with transparency in doing business and good governance.

Interviewed by the BusinessMirror, Schumacher said the Duterte administration has the opportunity to achieve inclusive growth by building on the gains of the Aquino administration.

He said the ECCP continues to see a lot of potential in the Philippines under Duterte to encourage more investors from Europe.

Schumacher maintained that, to get out of poverty, the Philippines must sustain a double-digit growth for at least 10 years.  He said that can be done with the Duterte administration building on the gains of the 6-percent  to 7-percent growth in terms of GDP.

The ECCP, he said, continues to work with the Duterte administration to help promote inclusive growth. “We are working with the Duterte administration at the Cabinet level. We are meeting basically with the Cabinet secretaries and everything is okay,” Schumacher said.

Looking at the 10-point agenda of the Duterte administration, the prospect remains of doing business in the Philippines remains good, he said.

“I think the 10-point agenda, if you look at opening the economy, and that can be done either by changing the Constitution,” Schumacher said. The country, he added, may not have the absorptive capacity when it comes to implementing big-ticket infrastructure projects, unless it allows international construction companies to come in.

Business Mirror, November 15, 2016

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