CONTINUED AND SMOOTH OPERATIONS. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday (Feb. 9, 2023) assures Japanese investors of their "continued and smooth operations" in the Philippines. Marcos made the commitment during his roundtable meeting with the top executives of Japan-based semiconductor, electronics and wiring harness companies at the Okura Hotel in Tokyo, Japan. (Screenshot from Radio Television Malacañang)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday pledged to ensure the "continued and smooth" operations of Japanese investors in the Philippines.

Marcos made the vow in his meeting with top executives of Japan-based semiconductor, electronics and wiring harness firms at the Okura Hotel in Tokyo.

"I believe that by initiating dialogue and addressing issues in an interactive and proactive manner, we hope to send a message of commitment towards a continued and smooth operations of all of Japanese investors in the Philippines," Marcos said during the roundtable discussion with the Japanese business leaders.

The roundtable meeting serves as a platform for 11 major Japanese firms that have investments in the country to raise several issues and listen to the Marcos administration's solutions to address their concerns, according to Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, one of the Cabinet secretaries who attended the roundtable meeting.

Marcos said his administration would respond to the Japanese business executives' concerns, including the value-added tax (VAT) refund issues and manpower requirements.

“We have listened to your concerns and your issues, and we intend to respond to these challenges with a whole-of-government approach. The hope is that our strength in these sectors will beget more strength in the entire Philippine industrial landscape to the benefit of the Philippines and also of our partners and our investors,” he said.

“And it is why we have taken note of the comments that you have made specifically in the areas of the VAT exemption, in the problems of logistic and supply chains, and to that end, the infrastructure development in the Philippines has actually been accelerated," Marcos added.

Marcos also emphasized that his government puts a premium on the operation of Japanese companies in the Philippines being the country’s prime job generator, support provider for sectors critical to industrial development and value creator through innovation in manufacturing around the world.

In a Facebook post, state-run Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM) said the Marcos government and its Japanese partners also discussed possible business expansions and important updates on the investors' operations in the Philippines.

Also tackled was the impact of the possible partnerships on the Philippines' economic growth, particularly in terms of special technology, job creation, and industry development, the RTVM said.

Aspiration to be 'hub of excellence'

During the roundtable dialogue, Marcos bared the Philippines' aspiration to become "hub of excellence" for key sectors that the country has "natural comparative advantage," noting that his administration's economic agenda is pursuing an investment-led export growth strategy.

Marcos said his administration also aims to attain the country's status as a "regional hub for printers, wiring harnesses and other electronic goods."

The Philippine wiring harnesses exports have been growing on average by nine percent annually, over a 20-year period, from 2000 to 2021.

To date, the Philippines serves as the fourth largest exporter of wiring harnesses in the world.

The automotive wiring harness market is expected to surpass USD93 billion this year, with global demand for greater fuel efficiency and electric vehicles fueling growth in the coming years.

Upskilling, reskilling of Filipino workers

Marcos said the Philippine government will also step up its efforts to upskill and reskill Filipino workers to boost their competitiveness under the new global economy and technological advances.

This, as Marcos emphasized that giving the Filipino workforce the proper training and assistance would enable the Philippines to provide the technical manpower.

“We also consider very important the programs that you have elucidated here today about the upskilling and reskilling of our workforce,” Marcos told the Japanese business leaders. “It’s very clear that we are shifting in the world economy, away from the more traditional, industrial activities to a high technology world."

Marcos is currently on a five-day official visit to Japan to strengthen Manila and Tokyo's collaboration in a wide range of areas, including agriculture, renewable energy, digital transformation, defense and infrastructure. (PNA)