MANILA – There is “no limit” to investments that businessmen based in Hong Kong and Shanghai are willing to bring to the Philippines as China moves forward with its Belt and Road Initiative, a Hong Kong business leader said Tuesday.
A delegation composed of 40 business leaders from Hong Kong and Shanghai visited the country from April 22 to 24 in a joint investment mission led by the Hong Kong Trade Department Council (HKTDC) together with the Shanghai Federation of Industry and Commerce.
Top Philippine officials, including Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, presented to the delegates infrastructure projects up for investment.
“In terms of amount, there’s no limit, especially if the opportunity is there and if the projects are good,” said Jonathan KS Choi, chairman of the Hong Kong Chinese General Chamber of Commerce.
“China has invested quite a bit but it’s simply not enough. We come in with the vision of bringing substantial investors with us,” HKTDC chairman Vincent HS Lo told reporters.
Choi said Chinese businessmen are particularly interested in aviation, railways and expressways where they have the “capital, expertise and technologies.”
He said investments could come in different forms such as capital, financing, consultancy and engineering.
Choi cited Hong Kong’s MTR public transport maintenance and operations, which he said could be applied in the country. In Hong Kong, income-generating stores were built around the railways to subsidize government spending, he said.
“This is the most successful model, because we use the income from the property to subsidize. We build something on top of the infrastructure to compensate,” Choi said.
With the South China Sea dispute taking a backseat and given good relations between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping, investors from China are more open to doing business in the country, according to the delegates.
“Business people are still cautious but we can see the relations warming and moving to the right direction. That’s why we are here,” Lo said.
Still, Lo said that in terms of ease in doing business, the Philippines still needs to work on clarifying some of its rules and regulations.