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Mobility the next benchmark for foreign investment in the Philippines, ECCP says

Mobility will be the next benchmark that foreign investors will consider when coming into the Philippines, but the current process is “painful” for those planning to scout opportunities in the country, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) said.

According to newly-elected ECCP president Lars Wittig, foreign businesses are now looking at the vaccination program, and mobility of the population moving forward.

“The next benchmark will be mobility. Our ability to go not only to and from the offices from our home when we like to, but also our ability to interact with each other and to travel domestically,” he said in a virtual roundtable discussion on Wednesday.

The Philippines has been in and out of strict lockdowns since March 2020, with the National Capital Region (NCR) currently under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until the end of the month.

Wittig noted that the first months of the lockdowns due to the pandemic were stricter in the country compared with the peers in the region.

“Representing the business domestic and foreign alike, I must say we felt like choking at times where we had more air to breath in other Southeast Asian nations but I feel very much that it started to show an added success here with the current wave that is suffocating right now most of our neighboring countries,” he said.

According to ECCP executive director Florian Gottein, the current conditions make it hard for foreign investors to look for possible opportunities in the country.

“Imagine if someone is exploring potential investment or business opportunities in the Philippines and then has to come here and basically has to spend two weeks in quarantine before he can meet potential business partners doing side business, etc.,” he said in the same roundtable.

“It’s a very painful process at the moment. I think it also depends on how attractive it will be for foreign businessmen that they will consider coming here and doing business,” Gottein added.

Wittig said investments into the Philippines from European businesses fell 12% in the past year, but this is a moderate drop when compared with the overall foreign direct investments which slipped 24%.

A number of European businesses also exited the country last year, but Wittig said these were already close to winding down even prior to the pandemic.

“We are really optimistic and hopefully we see another silver lining that we are really able to enter a new phase that we are more flexible when it comes to our travel arrangements,” Gottein said.—AOL, GMA News