BoI hikes investment target to P1.5 trillion

The Board of Investments expects to register P1.5 trillion worth of investments this year. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCASTHE BOARD of Investments (BoI) is confident the Philippines can attract more investments, as it raised its target by 50% to P1.5 trillion this year.
“Given the strong investment approvals for January, as well as the robust pipeline of investment leads — including those generated through presidential visits, I have increased the 2023 investment registration target of the BoI from P1 trillion to P1.5 trillion,” BoI Chairman and Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said in a statement on Thursday. 
The BoI, an investment promotion agency under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), has already recorded P414 billion worth of registered investments as of Feb. 9. This is more than double the P170.5 billion worth of investments approved in the same period last year.
The latest February figure was already half of the BoI’s original P1-trillion target, and nearly 60% of the P729 billion worth of investments approved in 2022.
“I thank BoI for enthusiastically welcoming this challenge, and of course the President as a hub for sustainability and innovation-driven manufacturing and services in the region,” Mr. Pascual said.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s presidential trips to several countries including Japan, China, and the United States may have also helped drive investments higher.
“The previous presidential visits have been contributing significantly to our robust list of investment leads, including companies that did not participate directly in activities held during the visit but are also strongly encouraged by the positive projection of the Philippines as influenced by the visits,” Mr. Pascual said.
On Feb. 19, Mr. Pascual said the DTI has P344 billion worth of potential investment leads that have yet to be processed following the recent presidential trips.
The DTI chief said they are working to ensure the investment leads will materialize into actual investments in areas such “renewable energy (RE), data centers, electric vehicle (EV) assembly and infrastructure, export-oriented manufacturing, and telecommunications, among others.”
In a Viber message to reporters, Trade Undersecretary Carol P. Sanchez said the Senate’s approval of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal will likely boost investments in the Philippines.
“Secretary Pascual is confident that RCEP can contribute to pushing investors to decide on setting up in the Philippines,” she said. 
Ms. Sanchez said the BoI’s current investment leads are from sectors such as information technology and business process management (IT-BPM), renewable energy, manufacturing, data centers, green metals, telco towers, sea cable infrastructure, EVs, and light manufacturing.
Senators on Tuesday voted to concur with the RCEP’s ratification, paving the way for the Philippines to finally join the world’s largest trade deal.
Aside from the Philippines, the RCEP participating countries include the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries, Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand.  It took effect on Jan. 1, 2022 for most of the participating countries.
INVESTMENT PROMOTIONMeanwhile, the BoI said in a separate statement that it signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC) Philippines to explore potential collaboration and investment opportunities.
“The MOU between BoI and HSBC Philippines will serve as an instrument to facilitate collaboration in terms of investment promotion. We are very grateful for this partnership because it will also enable the conduct of investment seminars and business matching activities that will be helpful to our local businesses,” Mr. Pascual said.
The MOU was signed by Mr. Pascual and HSBC Philippines President and Chief Executive Officer Sandeep Uppal on Feb. 21.
“It has always been HSBC Philippines’ commitment to support the country’s agenda on nation building and economic progress. We are indeed delighted to be in partnership with the DTI and through HSBC’s international network, we hope to bridge the Philippines to growth opportunities across the globe and vice versa,” Mr. Uppal said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave