This isn’t about flowers blooming on the sidewalks of Taipei, or the cherry blossoms on the mountains of Alishan, neither the calla lily fields of Yangmingshan.
It’s about events that the Philippine government, through MECO and the Department of Trade and Industry, as well as the Department of Agriculture, have been able to come up with in cooperation with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Manila, and the Council of Agricultural and its Agricultural Training Institute, along with the giant business associations in Taiwan.
Last April 15, the annual Philippine Investment Forum in Taipei was held with the collaboration of TEEMA, the business association of Taiwan’s electronic and semi-conductor companies. Our very active commercial counsellor, DTI-Meco’s Michael Alfred Ignacio, spearheaded the organization of the event.
To my surprise, despite the ravages wrought by the pandemic on our economy, we had a jampacked crowd of top business executives and decision-makers who are looking to expand their operations overseas.
DTI Undersecretary and Board of Investments managing head Dr. Ceferino S. Rodolfo, PhD, explained via a virtual conference the newly-signed CREATE Law, and how Taiwanese companies could take full advantage of the tax and incentives legislation.
BOI Executive Director for Industry Development Services Ma. Corazon Halili-Dichosa discussed why the Philippines could be Taiwan’s next Research and Development (R and D) partner in Asia. She enumerated the numerous advantages of establishing operations in our country, such as access to the ASEAN regional market, FTA’s, GSP privileges, and the country’s world-class, globally admired human resources.
All the more important was the impressive show of support given by top-ranking Taiwanese executives who gave testimonial keynotes on their good experiences in the Philippines, and how their operations in our country have contributed to their overall bottom lines and market positioning.
James Wang, CEO of SERCOMM, a global leader in the manufacture of telecommunications and broadband equipment, showed how they were able to scale up their operations from just over a year ago. Coming to the Philippines only in late 2018, they now employ more than 2,000 Filipinos in our country, and despite the pandemic, their operations continued to flourish. James took a look at the Philippines upon the invitation of Fernando Zobel de Ayala, whom he met in the United States while he was in university.
Chairman Patrick Chiu of Hocheng Philippines. Or HCG, the famous sanitary ware manufacturer, discussed their 25-year old manufacturing operations in Cavite since 1995, and how satisfied they are with their workers who have remained loyal to the company, and are highly efficient, making HCG the No.1 bathroom solutions provider in the Philippines, covering the medium to high-end markets, and now expanding to make sanitary wares affordable for socialized housing use.
Patrick’s father was invited to the country by President Fidel V. Ramos, and a picture of the founder and our former president is prominently displayed in the boardroom of HCG, which is about two hundred steps near my residence in Taipei.
This demonstrates how well-accepted our labor force is, and how both government and business can entice foreigners to invest in our economy.
Kevan Tsai, Director of TEEMA’s New Southbound Project Team likewise conversed on why they have chosen the Philippines as among the top country destinations for regional expansion.
Medtecs Chairman Clement Yang and Bioteque Corporation’s Senior Vice-President Kenneth Lin, both manufacturers and distributors of medical supplies, explained how easily they ramped up their manufacture in the Philippines of PPE’s and face masks, given the adaptability of our labor force.
Jonathan Ravales, chief economist and first vice-president of Banco de Oro, provided an in-depth overview of the economy and market outlook of the Philippines. Jonas is a “suki” of MECO and the Philippine Investment Trading Center, always cooperating with us in promoting the country as an investment destination.
Meanwhile, the Agricultural Training Institute of Taiwan, after a MECO-TECO agreement supported by Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture and our Department of Agriculture under Secretary William Dar, will provide on-the-farm internship training for an initial batch of 50 young Filipinos in different areas of Taiwan’s agriculture and aquaculture industries.
This is a good start, in what we hope would be a come-on for our young generation to get back to our farms, to find agriculture “sexy”, as we stated in our keynote speech when the program was launched. Farming and fisheries need to be profitable so that our young people will not stray away from the lifetime of toil their fathers and mothers did to support them.
They are now studying conversational Mandarin Chinese in the Philippines, and by August this year, they will fly to Taipei to begin the internship, a study and work program where they learn modern agricultural technology in the universities and agricultural colleges, and apply these in farm sites.
I hope this would be another stone in the edifice of nation-building that MECO, in coordination and with the full cooperation of TECO and the Taiwan government, can contribute.
We thank Secretary Dar for giving this endeavor his full support, as well as our Taiwanese friends who have made this initial step at modernizing Philippine agriculture through reviving young people’s interest in farming, possible.