DAVOS, Switzerland: At least nine international companies have expressed interest to invest or expand their business in the Philippines, members of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s economic team said.
Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual met with officials of four companies, including Morgan Stanley chairman for Asia-Pacific Gokul Laroia.
Laroia, in an earlier meeting with Marcos on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF), said Morgan Stanley would open an office in Manila.
Morgan Stanley is a New York-based financial services corporation that advises, originates, trades, manages, and distributes capital for institutions, governments, and individuals.
Besides Morgan Stanley, Pascual also had talks with Jeff Maggioncalda, chief executive officer of Coursera, an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, as well as officials of Glencore, a Swiss multinational company dealing with natural resources, and Astranis, a US-based company that provides low-level satellites for purposes of access to the internet.
Pascual said business leaders at the WEF have acknowledged that the Philippines’ main selling point is its young, vibrant, and trainable workforce with a median age of 33+.
“Their confirmation that our young workers are very optimistic in their work and very good attitude toward work,” he added.
Meanwhile, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said he had met with five company executives, including Dolf van den Brink, CEO of Heineken, who expressed their interest to increase their presence in the Philippines.
The Dutch pilsner is currently in partnership with Asia Brewery.
Bautista added Thomas Buberl, CEO of leading Swiss insurer AXA expressed the same interest.
AXA is currently in partnership with the Metrobank Group in the Philippines.
Blackwater, a Chicago-based private venture capital firm, Bautista said is considering investing in Philippine infrastructure.
“So they are happy to work with us, to expand their presence in the Philippines,” he added.
Bautista reported that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had expressed support for the Philippines’ railway projects.
“So I think this participation in this World Economic Forum is very important because as mentioned by the other Cabinet secretaries, we are selling the Philippines. Now they have more understanding of what the projects of the Marcos administration,” Bautista said.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, meanwhile, said the main concern of business leaders at the WEF was the state and direction of the Philippines.
“They have heard about our constraints, the issues, and what has been done by our key decision-makers on these issues. And I think that interaction proves very useful because as I said, they would want to hear whether the story that’s emerging in the Philippines is sustainable. They ask a lot of questions about our moving forward — policy concerns, policy issues, what we are doing to make the economy even more attractive for investors, what reforms are being advanced, what legislative measures are being tackled to make the economy more attractive for long-term development,” Balisacan said.