British envoy offers hint on new British investors

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London – British firms are gung-hu over the Philippines as they line-up investments in oil refinery, pharmaceutical production, infrastructure and retailer ventures including UK’s leading fashion brand River Island.

 

British Ambassador Asif Ahmad told reporters on the sidelines.of the Philippine Airlines reception for its inaugural flight here that some of the prospective British investments include an oil refinery and a pharmaceutical project.

He said the oil refinery project is not the British-owned Shell, whose operation in the Philippines has been largely scaled down to oil importation for local distribution.

The British Ambassador did not also divulge the pharmaceutical firm, but said it might be engaged into vaccine production.

He, however, confirmed that two British retailers are coming to the Philippines – River Island and a coffee chain that he refused to identify.

River Island is one of British leading fashion retailers.

“These two are in the pipeline whether they come in as a franchise, direct or as a brand franchise arrangement,” said the Ambassador.

He said that the British retailers are also looking at opportunities in the Philippines in anticipation of the ASEAN Economic Integration in 2015.

What is more notable is the strong interests coming from the British small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to expand in the Philippines he said.

He said that the two business missions to Manila thus month are mostly composed of British SMEs.

A small enterprise in Britain is characterized with capitalization of £1 million to £10 million while the medium enterprise has a capitalization of above £10 million to £15 million.

He said this trend is seen as a strategy for these British firms to grow outside of their home base. By putting up a business in the Philippines, they are assured of the huge Asean market of over 500 million people.

“We also need SMEs to double our bilateral trade,” he said.

It is also easier to conduct business to business in the Philippines than with the government, the ambassador added.

This led him to cite the snail-paced implementation of the government’s big infrastructure projects under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program as he cited British strong interests in participating in the infrastructure sector particularly in airport and railways projects under the government’s PPP program.

He stressed a need for balance to ensure that PPP projects get on the ground adding that of the 40 PPP projects only four so far have been implemented.

“The legal system is slow,” he said and that delays implementation of some PPP projects.

“Dang Matuwid (straight path) is something we support,” he said but stressed there must be a balance on a way to ensure that projects can also move quickly. Manila Bulletin