'Wait and see' for European businessmen on Philippines, envoy says

Cathy Yang, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 30 2018 12:14 PM

MANILA - European businessmen are on a "wait and see" attitude before investing in the Philippines for the first time due to "mixed messages" on the relationship between Brussels and Manila, the European Union's top envoy said Tuesday.

Those who have existing operations in the Philippines "tend to be very positive" having been in the country for decades, said EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen.

European businessmen are looking at the predictability of laws, labor costs and security, especially with martial law still in effect in the south, Jessen said in an exclusive interview with ANC's The Boss.

"We are keen on getting them to come out here and look for themselves," Jessen said.

"They want to make sure that what they do in the country is predictable in the years to come," he said.

European Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen speaks to Cathy Yang for ANC's The Boss

Democracy is "important" for European investors because they want to "work with a system that is similar to what we have in Europe."

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly criticized international organizations, including the EU, for raising concern over his war on drugs, calling it meddling in internal affairs.

The EU said last week that Manila rejected P380 million in aide under the Trade Related Assistance Scheme. The President had said that he would not accept aid with conditions.

At the same time, the EU renewed the zero tariff privileges for select Philippine exports under its Generalized Scheme of Preferences scheme.

Jessen said this would support Duterte's pro-poor agenda as the trade perks covered fisheries and mean, which are among the Philippines' fastest growing export products.

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