UK keen on increasing trade, investments in key PH areas

By Max V. de Leon, BusinessMirror

Posted at Dec 07 2012 07:50 AM | Updated as of Dec 07 2012 03:50 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The United Kingdom has expressed interest in increasing trade and investments in the Philippines, particularly in information and communications technology (ICT) and public-private partnership (PPP).

“The UK sees the Philippines as [our] increasing partner for growth. The UK Trade and Investment [UKTI] and the British Embassy are not only working on smart cities but also opportunities with PPP, retail, education, energy and health care,” British Minister of State for International Development Allan Duncan said.

Duncan delivered a virtual message at a seminar on UK Technologies for Smart Living at a hotel in Makati City on Thursday.

“I am delighted to introduce to you a strong delegation of British businesses offering world-leading expertise in smart technology. Smart cities find solution to development, allowing people in cities to have a high quality of life but also more sustainable. The development of smart cities is not just an exciting opportunity to do business but [it puts] in place innovations that improve people’s lives,” he said.

Duncan added that these smart solutions use information technology (IT) to ensure the intelligent use of resources and cut across infrastructure, energy, transport, buildings, health care and information management, among others.

“According to our British bank HSBC, the Philippines is said to be the 16th-largest economy in the world by 2050. To support this forecast, the Philippines will be investing heavily in ICT infrastructure that support more efficient ways of moving people and goods in the archipelago,” he said.

Duncan added that the UK’s increasing interest in the Philippines is also supported by Manila’s ranking in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report. The Philippines climbed 10 spots to No. 75 this year, with significant gains in macro-economic environment, technological readiness and good market efficiency.

Trade Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio shared with visiting British firms significant facts on the country’s economic strength and its attractiveness to investors.

“The Philippine economy is resilient because it is not too export-dependent compared to our neighboring countries like Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Thailand,” Panlilio said. “These countries are dependent on exports, which account for 80 percent of their gross domestic product [GDP]. In the Philippines, merchandise and service exports comprise 35 [percent] to 40 percent of GDP.”

He added that when Western economies suffered a slowdown, the Philippine GDP remained at a high level of 5 percent to 7.5 percent, “while our Asian neighbors are struggling at 2 [-percent] to 3 [-percent] growth rate.”

British firms that joined the UKTI delegation held business-matching sessions with Filipino companies during the seminar.