Philippine businesses growing in Cambodia
Posted on Thursday Dec 15th at 5:00am
By Christina Mendez
PHNOM PENH – President Duterte’s state visit is expected to expand the Philippines’ business presence here where opportunities abound for Filipino products and services, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.
This developed as a “very regal” Duterte – as described by his foreign affairs chief – engaged Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni in bilateral talks after arrival honors at the Royal Palace, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said.
“There are a couple of Filipino companies already operating in Cambodia, trying to just take advantage of the growth prospects in Cambodia,” Lopez said.
He cited, among others, San Miguel Corp., Liwayway, Davies Paints and Penshoppe.
“We can see Filipino brands expanding in this part of the world and… taking advantage as well of the free trade agreement that we have within ASEAN,” Lopez pointed out.
Cambodia’s being part of ASEAN would unlock opportunities for growth for the two countries, he said.
“Filipino companies (are) expanding to the Cambodian market. (It is also) our intention to invite them to invest also in the Philippines,” he said.
Duterte met with officials of the Cambodia business chamber and with Filipino businessmen here. The government’s main interests are in the areas of tourism and finance.
In a press briefing, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said they are encouraging more tourists from Cambodia to go to the Philippines.
About 70,000 to 80,000 Filipinos toured various places in Cambodia last year, but tourists from Cambodia numbered only about 2,000 to 3,000.
“We will focus on air connectivity. We would like to have a direct flight from Phnom Penh to the Philippines because right now we don’t have one,” Teo said, adding she hopes to talk with Philippine Airlines regarding the matter.
There are direct Cebu Pacific flights between Manila and Siem Reap but none to the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.
“If we have direct flights, I’m sure that tourist arrivals of Cambodian people to the Philippines will increase,” she said.
“We would also like to invite media people and tour operators to come to the Philippines so they would know our country and so they could promote our country,” Teo added.
Teo said her agency is also looking at attracting more investors in hotels and resorts.
A student exchange program is also being worked out to boost tourism arrivals in Manila, she added.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, for his part, said a Memorandum of Understanding/Agreement signed between the two countries would seek to address concerns of Filipino workers in Cambodia and vice-versa.
“I was informed earlier this morning that the MOU or MOA was presented to Secretary Jun Yasay because we don’t have a POLO office here,” he said, referring to Philippine Overseas Labor Office. “But I presume that the reason for that is that we don’t have much problem about our OFWs here. In fact, they have more OFWs as far as ASEAN countries are concerned.”
With about 6,000 Filipino professionals working here, Lopez noted that they are highly regarded in this country.
“We’re proud to say that the Filipinos are more of the professionals, engineers, architects, teachers, and we’ve been hearing feedback that they are well loved, liked here and in Cambodia because they’re really part of the human capital development as well as business services that they provide to Cambodian economy,” Lopez said.
“In that regard also, we consider that as one export bright spot. In other words, providing professional services to Cambodian businesses – construction, engineering, architecture,” Lopez added.
Meanwhile, Yasay said the President lived up to expectations regarding his diplomatic skills during his meeting with the Cambodian king.
“We had earlier a bilateral meeting with His Royal Majesty and you see the king of Cambodia is a very cultured person, very intelligent, very regal, very elegant, well respected by the people and I was personally amazed by the fact that our President had measured up to this very important occasion,” Yasay said.