The European and American Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines convened top business leaders, heads of government agencies, and the private sectors, representing various industries, in a special joint membership meeting held on 28 October 2010, Dusit Hotel, Makati City. This unusual effort was conducted to provide the Philippines with information on the businesses with the brightest prospcts for the country in 2011.
The joint chambers presented the Philippine Outlook for 2011 as perceived by the so-called Seven Big Winners (sectors), as follows: 1) Agribusiness 2) Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) and Creative Industries 3) Infrastructure:Public-Private Partnership 4) Power and Ground Transport 5) Manufacturing 6) Mining and 7) Tourism
Mr. Hubert d' Aboville, President of the European Chamber of Commerce led the opening ceremonies and welcomed the participants and guests in the prestigious gathering. He congratulated the personalities behind the Seven Big Winners and articulated the fact that the 'perceived growth' for next year will send a strong signal that the Republic is on the right track. And as a testament of support to this undertaking, leading business persnalities laid down their respective outlook for 2011.
Outlook Philippine 2011: The Seven Big Winners
On Agribusiness, Mr. Roberto Amores, President of Hi-Las Marketing and Vice President for Agriculture of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, presented his views and prospects for Philippine Agriculture using the 2010 accomplishment (Jan-Aug 2010) of the sector as reference. Mr. Amores reported that the agri-food exports reached US$ 188.42 M. in August 2010 compared to its August 2009 level of US$ 174.71 M.
As of August 2010, the agriculture sub-sectors showed good gains except for fruits and vegetables whose production declined by 19.36 percent (from US$495.36 million in 2009 to US$399.91 million in 2010). Processed food and beverages were up by 6.82 percent (from US$571.71 million in 2009 to US$610.68 million in 2010) while marine and seafood production went up slightly by 1.31 percent (from US$331.47 million in 2009 to US$335.81 million in 2010).
Mr. Amores also said that, despite increases in production due to increased public investments in agriculture and the relatively fewer incidences of typhoons in the past three quarters of 2010, the country will continue to struggle to produce a surplus across all commodities in 2011. However, for rice, annual production is forecast to reach almost 12.7 million tons by 2013-2014, surpassing the 2009 level by over 18 percent. This will be fueled by continued improvements in infrastructure and yields, as the government looks to attain self-sufficiency.
In the case of corn, 20 percent growth is forecasted by 2013-2014. Corn production is expected to recover and return to growth driven by an expected expansion of the area under harvest to be brought about by increase in demand by the growing livestock sector which uses corn as a major feed ingredient.
As for the other growth indicators (2013-2014), coffee and sugar are seen to grow at 13 and 33 percent, respectively. The livestock industry will experience a steady growth. Demand for poultry will be strong over the period, according to Mr. Amores, as poultry production will increase by roughly 13.3 percent by 2014. Pork and cattle production will both remain bullish and are expected to increase by 12 and 2.1 percent, respectively.
Mr. Amores also enumerated some of the proposed agribusiness measures. In a nutshell, these are: increase production; reduce cost; improve acces to credit by small and medium enterprises; provide adequate budget to fully implement AFMA; restore the "D" quedan sugar allocation; and for government to be more transparent in terms of policies and procedures.
For the BPO and Creative Industries, Mr. Oscar Sañez, President and CEO of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP), claimed that the sector generated over 500,000 direct employment and roughly 1 to 1.5 M of indirect employment. Export revenues reached over US$ 9B.
Mr. Sañez also reported that the country was named Offshoring Destination of the Year for 2010 by the National Outsourcing Association of the U.K. This, he said, was already the third time in four years.
For the 2011 BPO outlook, Mr. Sanez said that over 800,000 new jobs will be created by putting more programs and resources in place. By 2016, the projected employment by this sector will reach 1.4 M jobs, he added.
Among the desired reforms the sector would like to see in 2011 are: improved legislative environment by passing bills on data piracy; creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT); amendments to the labor code; and funding support for a global awareness campaign on the Philippines as a center of excellence for BPO and creative service, among others.
As for Infrastructure: Public-Private Partnership, mainstreaming of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in the Philippines was the central point of Mr. Jon D. Lindbor who serves as the current Advisor for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in the Office of the Director General of the Southeast Asia Department of the Asian Development Bank.
Mr. Lindbor said that PPP in the country's business environment will add leverage and mobilization of private capital. He said that, based on ADB estimates, Asia needs roughly $8 trillion for infrastructure investments for 2010-2020. PPP can serve as a tool for improved service and delivery and can act as a catalyst for broader sector reforms.
The ADB Advisor also said that the Philippines ranked number 10 among developing countries with total value of PPPs for period 1990-2008 amounting to $45B.
Mr. Lindbor summarized his points by saying that there is a real opportunity for the Philippines to re-emerge as a robust PPP market and investment destination. The country needs to mobilize both international and domestic sponsor/ investors in order to ensure a level playing field to attract world-class technology and management.
Another vital and important industry in the country is the Power sector, which was articulated on by Mr. Daniel E. Chalmers, Chairman and CEO of GN Power. Mr. Chalmers praised the accomplishments of the Power Sector and Liabilities and Management (PSALM) of the government on its successful privatization efforts. One noteworthy accomplishment of the power sector in 2010 was the transition from a highly-monopolized industry to a more distributed one.
In terms of outlook, Mr. Chalmers raised the possibility of open access and power retail competition that will help address the looming power shortage due to increase in power demand coupled with the retirement of old power plants.
Among the desired reforms for the power sector are: government aggressiveness in promoting open access and retail competition; consumers to be more proactive and educated in contracting their power supply as a prudent measure for their power requirement; and encouragement of private investors for additional capacity to support demand growth and create stability both in the grid and in the market.
The Ground Transport Infrastructure was presented by Mr. Ramoncito S. Fernandez, President and CEO of Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation. In 2010, the major accomplishments of the transport sector included P30B worth of investments in toll roads proven to be growth contributors in Central, North and South Luzon, and the technology upgrades that were put in place.
Like the previous infrastructure sub-sectors mentioned above, the transport outlook for 2011 calls for heightened Public-Private Partnership (PPP); development and execution of expansion programs; seamless expressway travel; and improved access to tourist destinations.
Fast tracking right-of-way processing, improving access to long-term capital, and unification of standards are some of the parameters for reform of the transport sector.
Mr. John D. Forbes, Sr., Advisor of the American Chamber of Commerce, presented the 2010 accomplishments and desired reforms of the Manufacturing sector. According to Mr. Forbes, the manufacturing sector has increased actions against smuggling, recovered in exports by over 40 percent, and has been instrumental in shaping government policies to improve the business environment
The reforms being sought by the stakeholders of the said sector include: formulation of policy to understand better and thus exploit new opportunities created by new trade agreements in Asia; manufacturing for the domestic economy; exports to have high priority using an industrial master plan; positioning the Philippines as an alternative to China (where costs are rising); and Philippine branding campaign to promote the Filipino Workers.
The Mining industry in general reported a positive 36 percent growth during the first half of 2010 from 22 percent the year before. This growth translates to over US$3B contribution to the Philippine economy. Gross Value Added (GVA) in real prices increased to US$2.04B registering a 2 percent GDP contribution. These major accomplishments were presented by Mr. Benjamin Philip G. Romualdez, President of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines.
Mr. Romualdez was optimistic in saying that metal prices will remain strong for 2011 as global demand continues to outstrip supply. Demand comes mostly from emerging economies in Asia. In terms of investment, 19 large mining projects are in the pipeline with a total investment of US $12.92B, he concluded.
For this sector, Mr. Romualdez recommended the creation of a stable investment environment to promote local and foreign investments in the mining industry. He added that transparency and good governance shall help reduce the cost of doing business.
On Tourism, a presentation was made by Mr. Jose Clemente, Director and President of Worldwalker Destination, Inc., who reported that tourism arrivals in the Philippines remained stable despite the weak global economy. Domestic travel is now a big contributor and tourism destinations in the country have received recognition from award-giving bodies.
Mr. Clemente hopes to see more directions and clearer signals from the Department of Tourism (DOT) on tourism policies. There is also the need to allocate more resources to the tourism industry. And lastly, he pointed out that we should increase accessibility and make policies conducive to the industry in general.
After the presentations on the 7 Big Winners, an open forum followed. Mr. David Celdran, a well known veteran broadcast journalist with more than twenty years of experience in print and broadcast media, served as the moderator and panelist at the same time.
The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) was one of the participating organizations. The joint chambers' meeting was attended by BAR staff namely: Mr. Anthony Obligado, OIC head of the Technology Commercialization Unit (TCU); Ms. Evelyn Juanillo, agribusiness coordinator of TCU; and Mr. Patrick R.A. Lesaca of the Applied Communication Division (ACD).
Mr. Austen Chamberlain, president of the American Chamber of Commerce, congratulated all the presenters and thanked the Philippine government and all the chambers involved for making the event a successful one.