PH Consulate General invigorates economic ties with Pittsburgh-based manufacturers

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PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania -- In a visit indicating the Philippines’ strong interest in establishing closer economic ties with Pittsburgh and the Allegheny region, Consul General Mario De Leon, Jr., accompanied by Consul Felipe Carino and Trade Representative John Paul Inigo, met with US Steel officials led by GM William Hinckley, GM for Strategy and Business Development Hayley F. Scott-Davis, and GM for Governance Strategy Rob Garretson at US Steel headquarters in Pittsburgh last March 23, 2016.

Subsequently, he met PPG officials led by Arthur Pang of Government Affairs and Sean Purdy, Global Platform Director (Protective Coatings), and finally Innovative Electronics President Mukesh Pattel, and Nirma Parmar, Sales Manager.

Consul General De Leon was welcomed by US Steel officials and during an hour long meeting, the two sides exchanged views on US and Philippine economies and explored possible opportunities for US Steel in the Philippines given the resurgence of manufacturing in the country because of continuous economic growth.

Consul General conveyed that the Philippines is enjoying phenomenal growth buoyed by the emergence of the IT-BPM industry and overseas remittances.  The Philippines is part of ASEAN and the emergence of the ASEAN Economic Community 2015 promoting market integration present unique opportunities for US companies doing or wishing to do business in the 600-million ASEAN market.  There is significant growth in the real estate and property development sector, fueled by IT-BPM activities and overseas remittances where at least 30% is spent investing in real property, and there are opportunities in major infrastructure projects and ship building and repair.  The Philippines can serve as a logistics hub for outward bound products and services throughout the region, he added.         

Mr. Garretson welcomed the meeting with Consul General De Leon which he saw as an opportunity for US Steel to get to know the Philippines as they are constantly on the look-out for opportunities. Mr. Hinkley, on his part, was interested to know the growth potential of the Philippines and ASEAN in light of neighboring China which has a homegrown steel industry.

In the meeting with PPG Industries, Consul General De Leon related the experience in the Philippine property sector which is experiencing robust growth due to the overseas remittances amounting to US$25 Billion and the IT-BPM industry worth US$22 Billion in 2015 which is spurring demand in the commercial property sector and manufacturing sector.

Sean Purdy acknowledged Philippine growth and said that PPG is currently employing 21 people in their office in Manila, with plans to expand their main business in protective marine coatings and fireproof coatings while maintaining a business development office in Singapore.  

Consul General De Leon encouraged PPG to expand their operations in the Philippines and laid out possible sectors that PPG can tap such as ship-building, food-grade paints, maintenance and operations of ships, PPP projects, and wind farms.  The Philippines is the fourth biggest shipyard outside Japan and PPG can explore cooperation with property developers to supply their paint/ coating products for commercial property projects, he added.

In his meeting with Innovative Electronics, Consul General De Leon was given a tour in the plant facility located in Trunbull, Pittsburgh which employs a few hundred workers and engineers working mostly on electronic contracts for major corporations and medical device companies.  The company is said to be looking at expanding its business by opening a facility in Asia and they are considering a location in the Philippines.

Consul General De Leon said that the Philippines and the US share unique cultures and the Philippines has an English-speaking population that locators find convenient for manufacturing operations.  Hundreds of US companies have a presence in the Philippines with electronics firms such as Texas Instruments, Canon, Brother and Phoenix Semiconductors operating plants in special economic zones and free ports set up for encouraging overseas investments.

Trade Representative Inigo said that the Department of Trade and Industry is prepared to assist would-be locators and provide airport-to-airport arrangements to facilitate meetings.  He disclosed that more than 200 companies are coming back to the Philippines with the resurgence of manufacturing and leveling of China’s growth.  In manufacturing, there is industrial peace and wage rates are legislated and stable, he said. 

According to Mr. Pattel, his company is exploring the manufacture of electronic medical devices like defibrillators and is looking at establishing a high volume production plant that can employ about 100 workers.  The electronic components will come from China and Japan, so they need a location in Asia with an airport like Clark Freeport zone which has a logistics hub.  

Consul General De Leon welcomed Mr. Pattel’s plans and promised to assist Innovative to in a possible visit to the Philippines.

The Consulate General is strengthening its economic diplomacy activities in various states in cooperation with Filcom business executives and members by visiting Fortune 500/1000 companies and officials in light of the resurgence of the Philippine manufacturing sector and other opportunities for investment such as IT-BPM.  Last October, the first ever Investment Roadshow in Pittsburgh was held led by Ambassador Jose Cuisia, Dr. Bernie Villegas and Consul General De Leon in cooperation with the Allegheny Conference.