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Aquino urges Malaysian firms to tap Philippines’ business, trade opportunities

[ 07-04-2014 ]
Aquino urges Malaysian firms to tap Philippines’ business, trade opportunities

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian construction and plantation companies should tap the huge business and trade opportunities in the Philippines, which recorded strong economic growth of 7.2 per cent last year, says its President Benigno S. Aquino III.

Infrastructure spending in the country rose to 400 billion peso this year from 304 billion peso in 2013, he said, adding that his administration was also looking to stimulate growth in agriculture sector after some progress was stifled by disasters.

"We offer vast opportunities in various business sectors, especially in infrastructure and agriculture such as palm oil," he said in his address at the Malaysia-Philipines business opportunities forum here today.

Aquino said the administration also planned to transform the country's second largest and southernmost major island, Mindanao, into its palm oil capital to benefit its 4.4 million Muslim Filipinos following successful conclusion of the peace process.

"We are looking at a 'new chapter' with Malaysia, to expedite the growth of both countries through stronger bilateral ties," he said.

Earlier, he said his government would continue to keep business environment conducive to growth, which saw the country climbed in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Rankings to 59th place last year and Corruption Index jump 11 spots to 94th place out of 177 countries.

Meanwhile, International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, said Malaysia was committed to exploit all the opportunities that Philippines had to offer to advance bilateral trade and investment for the continued growth of both countries' economies.

He said more efforts were needed as the current bilateral trade between both countries only stood at US$4.5 billion, relatively very small, considering the Philippines' population of nearly 100 million.

"The country has massive potential amid stable political and economic stability. So, we will work closely with our counterparts in the Philippines," he told reporters on the sidelines of the forum.

Mustapa said the Philipines' transformation programmes included efforts to curb corruption at all levels, improve ranking on the ease of doing business and reduce bureaucracy had attracted foreign investors around the world including Malaysia.

He said more than 70 Malaysian companies were operating in the Philippines including five heavyweights involved in banking, infrastructure and hospitality. -- BERNAMA