Japan welcomes PH efforts to improve investment, business climate

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

February 24, 2024, 2:10 pm

<p>Japanese Ambassador Kazuhiko Koshikawa. <em>(PNA file photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler)</em></p>

Japanese Ambassador Kazuhiko Koshikawa. (PNA file photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler)

MANILA – Japan welcomed the Philippines’ ongoing efforts to improve its investment and business environment.

During the Japan National Day reception in Taguig on Friday night, outgoing Japanese Ambassador Kazuhiko Koshikawa expressed optimism that this would further convince Japanese firms to do business with the country.

“As for the private sector, Japan welcomes ongoing efforts to improve the investment and business environment of the Philippines. I am convinced that it will lead to a steady and substantial increase of foreign direct investment in this country with immense potential,” he said in his speech.

Koshikawa previously lamented that the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act of 2021, with all its good intentions, “has been cited as having made the business environment less competitive.”

He had warned that failure to appropriately amend the country’s value-added tax-related (VAT) provisions may lead to “many companies, including that of the Japanese,” to pull out their businesses in the country.

Last month, the Senate said it would discuss the proposed amendments in making "CREATE to Maximize Opportunities for Reinvigorating the Economy" or the CREATE MORE bill.

The bill pushes reforms that cover the establishment of a streamlined tax refund system for registered business enterprises and institutionalization of risk-based classification of claims and audit framework to improve the timeliness, efficiency, and predictability of the VAT refund process.

‘Growing PH-Japan ties’

In the same reception, Koshikawa looked back on the milestones the two nations achieved over the past few years, especially on people-to-people ties, defense, infrastructure, and peace in Mindanao.

He Japan and the Philippines’ relations have steadily grown even beyond their traditional areas of cooperation.

On tourism, Filipinos were among their top travelers, contributing more than 620,000 to Japan’s inbound arrivals in 2023.

“Last July, the number was the highest in ASEAN. People-to-people exchange is flourishing. We would like to keep our country attractive to the Filipino people,” he said.

The year 2023 also witnessed the dramatic expansion of Japan-Philippines engagements through the leaders’ mutual visits.

When President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. visited Japan in February 2023, Koshikawa said both the Japanese government and the private sector expressed full support for economic development plans spearheaded by his administration.

The summit between President Marcos and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in November also resulted in an agreement to start negotiations for the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), which would facilitate cooperation between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Japan Self-Defense Force.

In addition, Manila became the first recipient of the Official Security Assistance (OSA) with the provision of coastal radar systems.

The Mindanao peace process has also been an integral part of the two nations’ relations and Japan reaffirmed its support to help the country in “ensuring lasting peace and prosperity” in the area.

On infrastructure, the envoy said Japan is fully committed to contributing to the construction of the Metro Manila Subway, the North-South Commuter Railway, and the Davao Bypass.

“The world is still in turmoil and uncertainty. That is why I look forward to Japan and the Philippines, who share heart-to-heart ties and fundamental values and principles, joining hands with like-minded countries to contribute to peace and prosperity in our region and in the world,” Koshikawa said.

“Under the strong leadership of both countries and your support, I hope cooperation between Japan and the Philippines will grow to even greater heights.” (PNA)