The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) held a virtual media roundtable discussion with the Chamber’s new President, Lars Wittig last 25 August 2021. The discussion reviewed the milestones of ECCP, advocacy wins, upcoming flagship events, and tackled legislative and economic reform priorities, industry issues, and quarterly reports.
It also served as an introduction to Lars as the new ECCP President who was elected this June 2021. Prior to being the President, Lars first joined the ECCP board in January 2019 and was elected as ECCP Vice President last July 2020. During the event, he highlighted deepening the ties with European Chamber regional counterparts and fueling the growth of ECCP members in their regional offices. He also looked forward to further strengthening government and media relations. Concurrently, Lars holds a seat at the Joint Foreign Chambers group.
“I am most honored and humbled to be elected President of the ECCP especially at this critical time for foreign and domestic companies alike. Since the start of the pandemic, the Chamber has continued to support the government and the European-Philippine business community in the country’s transition towards the new normal. During my term, I look forward to building on the excellent work that the Chamber has done,” expressed Lars.
For this year, the Chamber accomplished various milestones for the first half of 2021. Last June the ECCP launched its first Europa Awards on Sustainability which awarded companies that exemplified best practices on smart and safer mobility, clean and efficient energy, circular economy, sustainable food and nutrition, green and inclusive finance solutions, and water resource management. In line with the event, they also presented the publication of a special edition of the EuroPH membership magazine featuring in-depth accounts of the winners’ entries and the ECCP Sustainability Whitebook containing the Chamber’s policy recommendations in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Philippine Development Plan.
Earlier this February, the ECCP jointly organized with the National Renewable Energy Board the REPH100 Launch which was convened by various energy stakeholders from the public and private sector, academe, and business organizations. The REPH100 movement, in support of the Green Energy Option Program, is a private sector-driven effort aimed at encouraging and supporting local players as well as international players to shift to 100% renewable energy.
Among the Chamber’s succeeding milestones include the PEZA Galing Pinas Ecozone Investment Partnership Award 2021’ given to ECCP in honor of its contributions to PEZA; creation of the Defense & Disaster Resilience Committee which aims to strengthen the collaboration amongst industry players in the defense sector and enhance the country’s disaster risk reduction and management; and the creation of the Creative Committee which aims to bring together relevant stakeholders for the overall development of the Philippine creative economy.
Looking at the Philippine business climate, for the quarterly report of last year and the first half of the year, the overall Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) level of 2020 is roughly 24% lower than that of 2019. In the same year, the Philippines received a total of USD 6.5 billion in FDI net inflows with USD 323.9 million coming from Europe. As for January to May 2021, there is a total of FDI net inflows registered at USD 3.4 billion with USD 24.2 million coming from Europe.
Similarly, Lars also gave a rundown of their upcoming flagship events and touched on the Chamber’s suggested legislative priorities as well as industry issues of the European-Philippine business community. On September 23 and 30, the ECCP will be hosting the 2021 European-Philippine Business Summit which will bring a series of high-level online conversations on how to set a course for the next decade of stronger European-Philippine economic ties and brighter economic opportunities. Now on its eighth run, the Summit will feature key government figures, business leaders, and experts who will take a closer look at the country’s long-term economic outlook, promising growth sectors, and the next agenda of doing business in the Philippines. Among the confirmed speakers are Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno, EU Delegation in Manila Ambassador Luc Véron, and Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Alain Gaschen.
Another flagship event is the ECCP Energy Smart Forum Series which aims to provide an avenue for discussions on how energy stakeholders can collaborate to achieve Philippine energy objectives, support business continuity and productivity, and access emerging business opportunities in the energy sector. After two sessions last 3 and 19 August, the next will be on 31 August, which will be attended by the Department of Finance and Department of Energy, among others.
On economic reforms, the key legislative priorities of the Chamber are the amendments to the Foreign Investments Act, Public Service Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act. The ECCP believes that the passage of the aforementioned bills will increase the country’s global competitiveness and usher in FDIs, which will facilitate economic growth and generate jobs ultimately contributing to the recovery of the country from the pandemic.
Over the years, stakeholders of the Philippine logistics services sector have experienced high shipping costs, excessive and unnecessary fees, and surcharges imposed as origin and destination charges, among others. These charges have negatively affected the economy and have adversely impacted the competitiveness of local industries and are estimated to cost the Philippine economy about USD 2 to 5 billion per year.
Given the complex issue of plastic pollution, the ECCP calls for the adoption of a tailor-fit approach based on thorough scientific studies and constructive dialogue with the industry instead of the unitary sweeping ban of plastics especially without the presence of affordable, viable alternatives. The ECCP also continues to strongly advocate for the imposition of an Extender Producer’s Responsibility (EPR) scheme for single-use plastics in line with their commitment to finding an optimal solution to the plastic waste problem.
The ECCP, under the new leadership of President Lars Wittig, remains committed to further strengthening the economic ties of the European-Business community.