MANILA - Japan's trade promotion agency appealed Wednesday for Philippine authorities to lift restrictions on the entry of foreign nationals after it eased lockdown measures earlier this month, allowing employees of Japanese companies to return.
Takashi Ishihara, executive director of the Japan External Trade Organization in Manila, made the comments as many Japanese businesses have restarted operations in the country, which just emerged from one of the world's strictest and longest quarantines of the pandemic this week.
"Since many of the Japanese companies in the Philippines need to have their Japanese staffs return to the Philippines, we hope that the government will let foreign business people return to the country as soon as possible," Ishihara told Kyodo News.
A day earlier, Philippine presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government has no timeline yet on when the ban on the entry of foreigners into the country will be lifted.
"You know, we are already very busy with handling issues with returning (overseas Filipino workers) because we are giving everyone (antibody) tests. So, we will have a bigger problem if we will allow foreigners to enter at this time," he said during one of the daily press conferences at the presidential palace.
Ishihara said many Japanese businesses in the country are struggling hard to recover amid a new normal caused by adjustments to their operations to prevent the spread of the disease.
He said 85 percent of Japanese businesses in the country expect the pandemic to hurt their operations, citing a survey last March they conducted with the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines.
Among them, 60 percent expect a "large impact" on their businesses, Ishihara added.
The Japanese trade official said their group is helping Japanese businesses in the Philippines cope with the present difficulties through consultations, and by providing the latest information on local laws and policies.