Italian businesses to expand in ASEAN, eyes Philippines as priority

Things are looking up in the Philippines this year as far as Italy is concerned. This was disclosed by Enrico Letta, President of Associazione Italia-ASEAN during the online “Italy-Philippines: Discovering the Opportunities” webinar, co-organized by the Italian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ICCPI) and Associazione Italia-ASEAN on 26 January 2021. He said that Italy intends to expand its businesses in the ASEAN region with the Philippines as its top priority as the said seminar aims to strengthen relations and bridge opportunities between Italy and the Philippines.

Philippine Board of Investments (BOI) Officer-in-Charge Director Lanie Dormiendo said during the webinar that the Philippine government expresses its appreciation to the vote of confidence of the Italian community as the country continues to improve its business climate through strategic policy reforms to make it easier for investors to do business and further encourage the flow of foreign direct investments (FDI) into the Philippines.

“With our REBUILD Strategy and 3Ps (Policies, Projects & Programs, Promotion) of industry development supported by the country’s strengths, there is a wide scope of business opportunities for Italian investors, complementing Italy’s expertise to support Philippines infrastructure Projects and other industries such as garments. Our “Make It Happen (MIH) in the Philippines” branding campaign, launched in 2020 November, also highlights the strength and adaptability of the Philippines to weather through challenges, exuding strength and adaptability even in times of difficulties,” Dormiendo explained.

She also discussed the sectoral opportunities for Italian investors, focusing on garments and textiles, specifically for natural fibers wherein the country is strong, i.e., abaca and pineapple. For garments, opportunities are in sustainable clothing, cutting edge designed high performing garments, using smart materials out of natural fibers such as abaca and pineapple.

Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Giorgio Guglielmino highlighted the importance of commercial interchange between the countries at the event. In turn, Philippine Ambassador to Italy Domingo Nolasco pitched several reasons on why Italian companies should invest more in the Philippines, mentioning other sectors presenting opportunities such as infrastructure, aerospace, renewable energy, and machinery.

Among the notable investments of Italian businessmen in the country include the P111M capital of Fendi in the business of selling leather goods, accessories, and clothing, Stefano Ricci S.p.A’s P251M in the retail of high-end/luxury goods and accessories, Novabala JV Corp.’s P486M project as a new services provider of design and construction of Novaliches-Balara Aqueduct 4 and La Mesa Reservation in Quezon City and the P71M project of Italpinas Development Corp. as a new developer of low-cost housing in Cagayan de Oro City.

Italy is considered as an important contributor of foreign investments from the European Union (EU) to the Philippines. In 2020, investment promotion agencies (IPA)-approved Italian investments totaled to P114.7M. Total investments of Italy since 2015 amounted to P1.32B as of last year.

The Philippines imported USD 584.3M worth of goods from Italy with exports of nearly USD 200M last year, preliminary numbers released by the Philippine Statistics Authority show. Bilateral trade between the Philippines and EU totaled USD 13B in 2020 with USD 6.8B in exports and USD 6.2B in imports.

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