DAVAO CITY - The Republic of China wants to make the Philippines the "forefront and gateway of Taiwanese investors" to the southeast Asian region as its new government under President Tsai Ing-wen pushes for its "Southbound policy."
The "Southbound policy" is a five-year plan that would strengthen Taiwan's economic and cultural cooperation with south and southeast Asian nations.
"The Philippines is one of the fastest growing economies. You (Filipinos) have restored the glory of your past achievements, and right now, your market is one of the biggest ASEAN markets," Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) Representative Gary Song-Huann Lin said.
Lin said the country's fast-growing economy, its young working population, and President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of war against criminality made the Philippines a prime investment destination and "the most important partner among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations."
"Investors want law and order to have peace and stability so they can concentrate their time to manage their investments," Lin, who is a "personal friend" of Duterte, said.
The TECO representative said Taiwan has been helping local authorities in combating cross-border crime such as the trafficking of people and drugs.
"Your PNP [Philippine National Police] has discovered the largest case of drug manufacturing in Angeles City. The information came from Taiwan police. That is one example," Lin told reporters.
Alongside the fight against illegal drugs and criminality, Lin underscored the need for the incoming Duterte administration to work on the improvement of infrastructure to attract more investors.
But even before Duterte takes office, the envoy said Taiwan's total investment in the Philippines has jumped 83.4 percent. To accommodate more Taiwanese investors flying in and out of the Philippines, the current 25,000 weekly flight seats from Taipei to Manila will be increased to 30,000 weekly flight seats next year.
Lin is also looking into strengthening educational exchanges, and hire more Filipino technical workers and engineers to contribute to Taiwan's information and communications industry.
Aside from school exchanges, Taiwan's south-bound policy also seeks to enhance agriculture, fisheries, enterprise, and tourism opportunities between Taiwan and the ASEAN.