Manila, Philippines – AN old adage practiced by market players—“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”—is now being raised by the Department of Trade and Industry to woo foreign investors. After tapping Denmark to join the “Build, Build, Build” program, the is now looking at soliciting the support of other European countries to invest on the government’s infrastructure binge.
Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said his office plans to work with trade officials from Germany and Hungary in a bid to list the two European Union member-states under the Build, Build, Build program. This came after Denmark expressed intent to bring in construction firms in support of the Duterte administration’s flagship campaign.
Lopez said the DTI is determined to attract “construction and technology solutions” firms from Berlin and Budapest that will provide the Manila government a boost in completing its big-ticket public infrastructure. He added that the thousands of projects under the Build, Build, Build program will certainly sound enticing to German and Hungarian firms.
“[There are] a lot of opportunities considering the numerous projects [we are trying complete]. But European companies we have talked to have been interested in providing technology and systems services, such as for smart cities, transportation, water management and efficient energy,” Lopez told the BusinessMirror.
Lopez discussed with his Danish counterpart Brian Mikkelsen the trade and investment opportunities that the Philippines and Denmark could explore. The Danish trade chief also brought the news that a number of Copenhagen-based construction firms are interested to take part in the country’s infrastructure drive.
In a statement last Thursday, Lopez pointed to the persistent growth of the Philippine economy as the main factor for Denmark’s keenness to participate in the “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program. “The current economic growth momentum, rating upgrades and aggressive infrastructure programs offer a lot of business opportunities for foreign investors, particularly with technology-oriented services and systems,” the trade chief said.
Mikkelsen himself praised the country for its steady economic growth in the past years, and this is the reason Denmark wants to play a part in the government’s development projects, according to the DTI. The Philippine economy grew by 6.8 percent in the first quarter—two ticks below the 7-percent target, but was faster than the 6.5 percent posted year-on-year.
Apart from infrastructure, the EU member-state is also determined to invest on renewable energy and cheap pharmaceuticals. On the other hand, Lopez invited Denmark to share insights on how the Philippines can better its social services, adding unsolicited proposals on development projects are welcome.
The BBB program is the administration’s main thrust in addressing the country’s infrastructure gap. The economic plan is aimed at completing 75 big-ticket public infrastructure, including six airports, nine railways, three bus rapid transits, 32 roads and bridges and four seaports, in a bid to speed up trade activity, lower the cost of mobility, generate job opportunities and encourage investments in the provinces.
The administration intends to achieve this dream by accelerating the country’s infrastructure-to-GDP ratio to 7.4 percent, amounting to as much as P9 trillion by the end of President Duterte’s term in 2022. So far, it has allocated P3.6 trillion for its public infrastructure, most of which will be spent on transportation and connectivity projects in Metro Manila and other major cities.
The ambitious infrastructure program had the eyes of foreign governments and investors prying at the Philippines and firms from different countries are interested to take part in the multitrillion-peso venture. One of the major projects under the infrastructure program, the Metro Manila Subway, is to be undertaken with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).
In March the Philippine government and Jica signed the $934.75-million loan accord that will bankroll the first phase of the subway project. The underground railway that will extend for about 30 kilometers with 14 stations is expected to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila, meet the growing transportation demand of the capital and reduce air pollution.
Swedish firms, on the other hand, are eyeing to provide the government with sustainable solutions to complement modernization efforts on the country’s infrastructure. Swedish Ambassador to the Philippines Harald Fries in February said car manufacturer Volvo Group is looking at setting up a bus rapid transit, while defense specialist Saab is keen on beefing up airport security.