S'pore firms keen to do business in resurgent Philippines

S'pore firms keen to do business in resurgent Philippines
President Tony Tan being received by ceremonial guards at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport yesterday. Accompanying him is Lieutenant-General Lauro Catalino Dela Cruz, the commanding general of the Philippine Air Force.

MANILA, Philippines - President Tony Tan Keng Yam is visiting the Philippines at a time when interest is growing among Singapore companies in the country's burgeoning market.

The Singapore leader, on his first state visit here, was met by Philippine Vice-President Jejomar Binay at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport yesterday.

Dr Tan will meet Philippine President Benigno Aquino today when they will "discuss matters of mutual concern, including cooperative activities in defence, trade and investment", said a statement from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs. Mr Aquino will also host Dr Tan to a state luncheon.

Dr Tan's four-day visit coincides with that of a 14-man delegation from the Singapore Business Federation, here to strengthen ties with the Philippine business community and to look for business opportunities. Its visit is supported by IE Singapore.

"The Philippines' economic resurgence is driven by robust growth in domestic demand, strong infrastructure spending and structural economic reforms. This has led to renewed investor interest," IE Singapore assistant chief executive officer Tan Soon Kim said in a statement.

The Philippines was one of Asia's best-performing economies last year, with growth clocked at 7.2 per cent, a rate the International Monetary Fund said the country can sustain in the coming years.

Ratings firm Standard and Poor's has upgraded the country to investment grade.

All this has enticed more Singapore companies to look at business opportunities here.

SMRT and MSI Global, a unit of Singapore's Land Transport Authority, recently won a bid to establish a fare-collection system for Metro Manila's rail network.

Singapore food and beverage brand Brotzeit opened its first outlet in Manila last year.

Today, apart from visiting historical sites, Dr Tan will also attend a dinner hosted by the Singapore community here.

He will meet the Philippine-Singapore Business Council tomorrow.

On Saturday, Dr Tan will travel to Samar province, which was badly hit by super typhoon Haiyan last year, where he will present medical equipment to the Basey District Hospital.

Dr Tan is accompanied by his wife Mary and a delegation including Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu and Senior Parliamentary Secretary Hawazi Daipi.

rdancel@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 3 in The Straits Times.

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