RP Embassy in Holland woos investors to RP

By LOUI GALICIA, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Nov 23 2008 11:22 PM | Updated as of Nov 24 2008 07:22 AM

Amid a world-wide economic slump and the worsening corruption and poverty in the Philippines, the Embassy in the Netherlands is striving harder to woo investors to the Philippines.

With the help of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, the Embassy’s Philippine Trade and Investment Centre conducted a series of trade road shows to attract Dutch businessmen to find a window of opportunity in the Philippines.

Their efforts did not go to waste as the first three “Business Opportunities in the Philippines” roadshows held in Rotterdam, The Hague and Tilburg were successful.

“You know, this is the start of a series of business seminars we are planning. I think the result is good. We got a good number of people,” said Ambassador Romeo Arguelles.

At every forum, Arguelles reiterated to the Dutch audience that although the current global financial crisis is affecting the Philippines, its economy has remained resilient because of the continued growth of exports and investments in the region.

The roadshows also generated a lot of interest because of the testimonials of Dutch businessmen who were successful in their ventures in the Philippines.

Positive outlook for RP, govt

One of them is from a Dutch politician who served as president of Shell Philippines from 1993 to 1997 and then became president of Shell Netherlands from 2003 to 2007.

Senator Ir Rein Willems had nothing but a very positive outlook for the Philippines and a high regard for the government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo despite all the blame on Mrs. Arroyo for the corruption and poverty in the country.

Willems remains upbeat that the economy in the Philippines will prosper under her regime.

“I personally had quite a good experience dealing with then senator Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now president. I think that she’s doing her utmost. Sometimes it’s not easy to do business in the country but she will succeed and I am confident of that and why? Because I think of her integrity and solidity of trying to get the country into a good growth position. And the truth is there. If you look at the last couple years, business has been good for the country,” Willems said.

However, there were some businessmen who remain cautious as to which country in Asia to put their money in.

After all, there are other countries in Asia to consider.

“There are a number of countries in the Far East that are very, very popular. There is China. There is upcoming India, also Pakistan, also Bangladesh. Also, the Chinese are outsourcing in Vietnam. So those countries you can see as competitive to a country like the Philippines,” said Jan Ter Haar, vice-president International Trade at The Hague Chamber of Commerce.

They are also convinced of some Pinoys’ belief that something good awaits them in Asia, including the Philippines.

“Asia is going to be the future and the Philippines is fortunately part of Asia. We have to invite the world to go there not only investments but in all other matters related to developing that part of the world,” lawyer Peter Payoyo said.