British firms still keen on investing in the Philippines

(Business Mirror, 6 September) – British investors remain optimistic about the country’s growth prospect in spite of accelerating inflation and tempered GDP growth, as they look forward to the fruits of this administration’s infrastructure binge.

In an interview with reporters, Christopher J. Nelson, executive chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce Philippines (BCCP), said British firms remain committed in looking at the country as an investment site. He believes the country is still in a good position in the face of rising inflation and tempered GDP growth.

“Let’s not forget 6 percent [of GDP growth in the second quarter is still high] in comparison to the [United Kingdom], which is much, much lower—less than 1 percent. We look at it [critically] because we live here. You got to look at it from there looking here. If 6 percent would be occurring in the UK, that would be outstanding. There are various reasons for that, so 6 percent is still a very strong growth rate,” Nelson said.

He added the country’s young population continues to be a factor for consideration of British firms. Nelson argued the demographic sweet spot is one reason investors are firm in their businesses here in spite of its economic conditions.

“If you look at your population, it is young [and] it is well educated. I think there is a growing demand for products, growing demand for services. Yes, your growth rate was tempered, but it is still a very, very strong growth rate if you compare it to the UK,” the business leader explained.

Nelson also said British investors are bullish of the Philippines because they find this administration’s “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program a boost to the country’s business climate.

“If you have improved infrastructure, do you imagine what it could be? I think that we are all in support of these infrastructure projects. There have been various studies in terms of what productivity is lost just by people commuting. That would be a tremendous improvement—the airports on tourism and so forth,” he explained.

Nelson said the BBB program is one measure that can balance the country’s accelerating inflation, which has just hit 6.4 percent in August. He concluded if the government can deliver on its infrastructure promise, it will certainly attract more foreign direct investments.

Inflation in August hit a new high at 6.4 percent, exceeding the forecasts of economists and government officials. Year-to-date inflation now stands at 4.8 percent, way above the Central Bank’s target range of 2 percent to 4 percent this year.