When is the right time to invest in the Philippines? It is now the opportune moment to invest as Israeli investors attested to increasingly vibrant Philippine business climate during the recent webinar entitled “Business Opportunities for Israel in the Philippines” held last 19 October 2021. 

Treating the Philippines as his second home, Mr. Itamar Gero, CEO of Truelogic and Axandra, shared the untapped potential of the Philippines. Having a background in IT and software engineering and for the past 13 years, Mr. Gero invested in six companies amassing an estimated total revenue of USD 10 million annually. He described the Filipino workforce as “young and very passionate” and “family-oriented”, which makes the work easy for Mr. Gero.  

Mr. Gero invited his fellow investors to start exploring business opportunities in the Philippines, as improvements are evident through infrastructure program such as Build, Build, Build. There is also progress in the playing field of telecommunication industry. He assured Israeli businessmen that the country has a lot more to offer with its “untapped opportunities.” 

“Start sooner than later. The Philippines is one of the best-untapped opportunities in the region countries, and soon you’ll say I should have been there sooner,” he said.  

Ms. Liron Gross, CEO and Co-Founder of Payo Asia, shared her insights on the thriving e-commerce sector in the Philippines as every transaction is almost, if not always, done online. “This is the best place now,” as she stressed on the flourishing e-commerce businesses that the pandemic has pushed to adapt faster.  

What impressed Gross was the proficiency of the Filipino workers in English, making communication in the workplace “easy.” “We solve problems by eating together,” she shared, as she noted that the workplace environment and culture in the Philippines is similar to Israel’s.  

Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador Ilan Fluss guaranteed a bevy of business opportunities in the Philippines. “The environment here is friendly environment – the government, people, business sector,” he said.  

The top of the agenda is to promote the economic relations between Israel and the Philippines, according to the Ambassador, as he is optimistic that the economic slowdown will eventually subside due to some promising indicators such as rising imports and exports paired with the downward trend of COVID-19 cases in the country. 

“It is important to note that the Philippine government is putting efforts in attracting foreign investors, Israeli investors, and businessmen, to come and to take benefit of these efforts,” the Ambassador emphasized.  

The Ambassador extended his gratitude to the Philippine Board of Investments (BOI) for working “very closely” and taking a key role in the partnership with both the Israeli trade mission and the Embassy.  

According to Angelica Cayas, Governor of the BOI, a Philippine team is heading to Israel at the end of November this year to realize the forging towards the investment promotion and protection agreement of bilateral investment treaty between both countries.  Israel has long been a valued business and trade partner of the Philippines and the agreement will foster more investments from Israel to the Philippines. 

Governor Cayas took pride in the “can-do” and “make-it-work” attitude of the Filipinos, which, she said, resonated to the investors and subsequently, reflected in the continued performance of the economy despite the setbacks brought by the pandemic. Amid the community quarantine, IT-BPM services, manufacturing, food, and essential items, and value chain have been operating unhampered.  

Additionally. she also cited the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Law as “a major game-changer for investors in the Philippines” for it offers more incentives to the inventors towards a “more attractive business climate.” 

Meanwhile, Lanie Dormiendo, head of the BOI’s International Investments Promotion Service, highlighted that the Philippines ’ foreign direct investment (FDI) jumped by 29 percent in 2020 followed by a 43.1 percent increase in FDI net inflows from January to July 2021.  

With a 45 million workforce population, the Philippines has “highly capable, innovative, committed, and cost-competitive talent to support Israeli businesses,” she pointed out. Particularly, the Philippines has rich and diverse agricultural sources owing to its 42 percent of the land area that can be devoted to agriculture, the BOI official said.  

“There are vast opportunities for Israeli businessmen not only in agriculture and agro-processing but also in electronics and IT-BPM,” she added. Despite the pandemic, the IT-BPM industry reached USD 26.3 billion revenues and FTEs grew by 6 percent bringing the total industry headcount to 1.3 million. The electronics and semiconductor industry is the highest contributor to the Philippines’ total exports with the value of USD 39.67 billion in 2020. The country is home for about 500 semiconductor and electronics companies with around 3.2 million direct and indirect workers. 

Known as the lead industry development and investments promotion agency and serves as a one-stop-shop for foreign and local investors, the BOI assured its commitment to assist the concerns of its stakeholders.  

The webinar was organized by the Economic and Commercial Mission of Israel to the Philippines with the BOI, in partnership with its mother agency—the Department of Trade and Industry, Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, Israel-Asia Chambers of Commerce, and the Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines. END