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Singapore forges new business ties with the Philippines

  • SBF leads business mission to explore renewed interest in market
  • IE Singapore establishes Manila Overseas Centre to promote economic partnerships

2 April 2014 [Singapore] – The Singapore Business Federation (SBF), supported by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, will be leading a 14-member delegation to Manila from 2 to 5 April 2014. This mission comes on the back of Philippines’ strong economic performance in recent years, which has reignited interest among Singapore companies to explore the Philippines market.

The Philippines-Singapore Business Council (PSBC) Business Mission to Manila aims to advance the business-to-business relations between both countries. Led by PSBC Singapore Co-Chairman Mr Loh Chin Hua, who is also CEO of Keppel Corporation Limited, the Singapore delegation comprises top business leaders from the infrastructure, transport and logistics, and consumer services sectors.

Mr Loh said “I am pleased to assume the Co-Chairmanship of PSBC, and note the significant success which Singapore companies have achieved in the Philippines. With the forging of robust mutual friendships, Singapore brand names, which span a wide range of sectors such as aviation, marine, logistics, telecommunication, real estate and hospitality, utilities, food and retail services, have flourished in the Philippines.”

The business mission is part of SBF’s partnership with its Philippine counterpart, the Makati Business Club (MBC), to forge stronger ties between both business communities. As Singapore secretariat for the PSBC, SBF aims to raise awareness among Singapore companies on the Philippine market through outreach efforts such as missions and industry roundtables.

Mr Tony Chew, Chairman of SBF said “SBF is most delighted to assume the role as the Singapore secretariat of the PSBC. We look forward to working closely with the Makati Business Club. As more and more Singapore companies seek trade and investment opportunities in the fast growing Philippines market, I am certain that our chamber-to-chamber relations will strengthen and become a key success factor for our Singapore companies. SBF looks forward to organising more activities to increase Singapore’s engagement with the Philippines given the expanded resources in SBF.”

To help Singapore companies tap growth opportunities in the Philippine market, IE Singapore has set up an Overseas Centre in Manila in January 2014. The Centre will focus on promoting Singapore-Philippines business collaboration in areas such as infrastructure development and consumerism.

Mr Tan Soon Kim, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of IE Singapore said “The Philippines’ economic resurgence is driven by robust growth in domestic demand, strong infrastructure spending and structural economic reforms. This has led to renewed investor interest. It is timely for Singapore companies looking to diversify their presence in the region, to look at this market anew for opportunities that commensurate with the needs of the market, including infrastructural and urban solution demands, complemented by a sizable consumer base.”

The Philippines was one of the countries with best performing economies in Asia last year, with GDP growth of 7.2%. It has also been upgraded to investment grade rating from top credit rating agencies such as Moody’s, Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's Ratings Services. HSBC has projected that the Philippines will become the world’s 16th largest economy by 2050, up from its current 44th place.

A Singapore company which has a longstanding presence in the Philippines is Keppel Corporation. Keppel Philippines Marine Inc (KPMI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Keppel Offshore & Marine, manages two established shipyards in the country – Keppel Batangas Shipyard and Keppel Subic Shipyard.

More Singapore companies are now relooking at the Philippines as an upcoming growth market. SMRT Corporation and MSI Global Pte Ltd, a unit of Singapore's Land Transport Authority (LTA), recently won a bid to establish a fare-collection system for Metro Manila's rail system. Local F&B brand, Brotzeit, also established its first outlet in Manila last year.

A key highlight of this PSBC business mission is the PSBC CXO Lunch on 4 April 2014, involving 40 Philippines business leaders and leaders of Singapore enterprises. Organised by SBF and MBC, the Guest-of-Honour for the lunch reception will be President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, who is making a State Visit to the Philippines from 2 to 5 April 2014.

The business delegation will also meet with the Philippines Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Mr Gregory L Domingo, and the Department of Finance Secretary Mr Cesar Purisima. A visit to the Subic-Clark corridor, designed to be an international service and logistics centre in the Southeast Asia region, has also been arranged for this delegation.

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