By Maya M. Padillo
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) has offered four areas where British investors and delegates could network and find more opportunities in Mindanao.
At the recently-concluded Mindanao Trade and Investment Forum, PCCI president George Barcelon strongly suggested agriculture, energy, power, and ICT-BPO industries, where British investors could cash-in in Southern Philippines.
“We hope that you will be able to network and gather entrepreneurs and industries and stakeholders in finding various opportunities in agriculture, energy, power, and the ICT-BPO services. Our Chambers are ready to help you and find potential business relationships,” Barcelon said in his speech.
Barcelon said putting Mindanao in the spotlight is a long wait until President Rodrigo Duterte became president that things are happening fast.
“The second largest island in the country Mindanao is often thought of as a Land of Promise and opportunities. It has immense resources yet in the past it has grappled with lawlessness, drug issues and poverty. Despite such occurrences that were confined to few areas the negative impression and stigma caused investors to shy away before,” he said.
However, in recent years Mindanao has gradually changed and increased investments in various sectors namely agriculture, manufacturing, IT services, and tourism, according to Barcelon.
In 2015 Mindanao contributed 14.4 percent of the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) with three of the six regions posting faster local economy expansion particularly the Davao region.
Barcelon said that although it took a bit of time for Mindanao to take away from the clutches of stigma, Mindanao has now come to realize its potential.
He said its agricultural produce has been robust, supplying most of the world with bananas, pineapples, tuna, and resources like natural rubber, cacao, among others, continue to thrive and contributed to the economic growth of the region.
He said tourism also continues to grow with arrivals almost doubling that of 2014.
He added that Mindanaoans have transformed the region with economy that is ready with more investment.
While Mindanao suffered power shortages before, Barcelon said the island is now moving forward given the additional power supply from hydro, geothermal, solar, biomass which are beneficial to manufacturing.
He also cited the cooperation of the East Asia area efforts to promote Mindanao as another area for tourism investment.
“The Department of Tourism is hoping to create eco-tourism and agri-tourism as supplementary products of Mindanao tourism specifically in Bukidnon. The DOT is looking for more flights of neighboring countries like Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia to make Davao more accessible,” he said.
Barcelon added that the roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) sea transport that will initially link Davao-General Santos-Bitung-Indonesia is expected to further open opportunities to come in this island, paving the away for the country’s transformation from a low middle income country in the foreseeable future.
“We are optimistic that this will be realized sooner than most of us have expected,” he said.
Barcelon also said that aside from the Ro-Ro, which PCCCI and the Davao and General Santos chambers aggressively advocate, the Duterte administration is embarking on infrastructure projects such as railways, roads and more to improve connectivity at lower logistic cost.
Yet, he said even before these projects were bidded they have been seeing an increase number of foreign business delegation from China, Japan, Europe and Middle East looking for potentials in Mindanao.