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  • Singapore leads business mission to the Philippines

Singapore leads business mission to the Philippines

  • Delegates to explore growth opportunities in Cebu 

29 September 2015 [Singapore] The Singapore Business Federation (SBF), supported by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, the Philippine Trade and Investment Centre, Singapore Furniture Industries Council and Singapore Manufacturing Federation, will be leading an eight-member delegation from six companies to Cebu province from 29 September to 2 October 2015. 

During this mission, Singapore companies will be exploring new business and networking opportunities in Cebu City, Philippines’ second largest city and the second biggest growth area after capital city Manila. 

Cebu City is a major domestic air and shipping hub due to its strategic location. It is home to a thriving commercial seaport with some 80% of inter-island shipping traffic and the highest number of domestic air links passing through the city. Cebu City is the leading city in the Philippines in export items such as furniture, fashion accessories, carrageenan (a food additive), toys, gifts and housewares, with the expanding services sector expected to maintain its economic dominance. Majority (73%) of the city’s labour force is employed in services industries such as banking, real estate and insurance. 

The Philippines has been one of the fastest growing economies in ASEAN for the past two years. Its economy continues to be driven by robust household consumption, private investment, and government spending. The GDP for the Philippines is forecasted to grow at 5.9% this year, buoyed by low oil prices boosting private consumption, steady employment growth and healthy inflows of workers’ remittances. Growth in exports of goods and services is expected to average 6.7% a year from 2015 to 2019, with demand for Philippine-manufactured goods remaining robust. Average annual import growth is expected to be at 6.8% for the same period1.

Mr Ho Meng Kit, Chief Executive Officer of SBF, said, “From the 2014-2015 SBF National Business Survey of our member companies, the Philippines was ranked fifth most popular for overseas business presence in Southeast Asia, and sixth most popular among the overseas markets our members would like to venture into Southeast Asia. As one of the fastest growing countries in Asia, the Philippines’ steady growth continues to draw keen interest from SBF’s member companies. We expect our Singapore companies on this business mission to benefit by tapping new business opportunities in Cebu.” 

The Philippines moved up significantly in the 2015 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, advancing seven places to rank 52 out of 144 economies. Fuelled by a growing middle class and a resurgent manufacturing sector, the market is projected to expand considerably over the next 10 to 15 years2.

Mr Tan Soon Kim, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of IE Singapore said, “There are growing opportunities for Singapore companies beyond Manila. Cebu, the second most economically-developed city after Manila, is one such region Singapore companies should consider. Cebu is the gateway to Central and Southern Philippines and has good air and sea connectivity. It offers a relatively lower-cost business environment and access to a skilled workforce. Business Process Outsourcing, manufacturing, consumer and tourism are some of the sectors that are thriving in Cebu.” 

This business mission to Cebu is one of the Philippine market engagement activities planned by SBF under the aegis of the Local Enterprise and Association Development Programme (LEAD). It is jointly managed by SPRING Singapore and IE Singapore to help Singapore companies seize growth opportunities in the Philippines. 

Singapore and the Philippines enjoy warm bilateral and economic ties. Bilateral trade between both countries reached S$15 billion in 2014, a two percent increase from the year before. Singapore was the Philippines’ fourth largest trading partner and top trading partner in ASEAN in 2014. 

The delegation will meet the Cebu Provincial Administrator, the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry, Board of Investments Cebu, the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority. Delegates will also get to meet and network with the Cebu Business Club. 

1 Economist Intelligence Unit Philippines Country Report generated on September 18th 2015

2 Excerpt of speech delivered by Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry at SBF’s “ASEAN Conference 2015: Growth opportunities in an integrated ASEAN” on 20 May 2015

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