British Foreign Office Minister of State Jeremy Browne MP spoke today before Philippine captains of industry about the United Kingdom’s advantages as an investment site and its increased interest in Asian markets.
UK Minister of State Jeremy Browne’s visit to Manila
Jeremy Browne: prosperity in the Philippines
In this video, Foreign Office Minister of State Jeremy Browne MP talks about enhancing the relationship between the UK and the Philippines.
Browne encouraged Philippine businesses to explore possible investment opportunities in the UK, citing the UK as a leading destination for foreign direct investment, an ideal environment for business and a gateway to international connections, making it a truly global hub. The UK provides good support for doing business - it takes just 13 days to start up a business in the UK, much shorter than other European countries. It is a leading contributor to emerging markets’ external finance, with more than 100 companies from the emerging markets listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).
“Ours is an outward-looking and open country. We are ranked by The Economist as the best place in Europe to do business. That’s why we’re home to many of the leading global companies - particularly in the energy, financial and communications spheres,” he said.
The UK has good reason to be optimistic about the future. Over the next three years the UK will continue to have one of the strongest business environments of all the main European economies, the Economist Intelligence Unit predicts.
Prosperity in a networked world
Mr Browne stressed that economic growth is central to UK foreign policy, in view of forecasts that today’s emerging economies will be 50% larger than the economies of the current G7 by 2050.
“UK sees this as an opportunity rather than threat,” said Mr Browne. “Strengthening our relations with these fast growing economies is one of the key foreign policy objectives of the UK’s new government. We recognise the importance to us of our close and historic relationships with Europe and North America - but also where the new opportunities increasingly lie.”
The UK Government is serious in its bid to create more trade opportunities with Asia. Over 2010-11 UK Trade and Investment is hosting a series of events around the UK to galvanise more British business to explore Asian markets. This month events were held at Stamford Bridge in London and at the Hilton Deansgate in Manchester. British Ambassador to the Philippines Stephen Lillie attended the event in London to encourage British firms to look to the Philippines as a promising investment site.
“The rise of the Philippine economy is mirrored by the wider growth of the emerging economies. In the past two decades GDP growth in the emerging and developing world was more than double what it was in the Euro area. China’s growth in past decade is 9%. India not far behind with 7%,” said Browne.
In the Philippines, GDP has doubled in the past 20 years, and independent projections predict that the economy is set to grow by just under 4% a year over the next five years. “Investment from the UK has played a part in that growth. UK is the largest cumulative investor in the Philippines over the past decade. Combined foreign direct and portfolio investments total nearly $10 billion in the period between 1999 and 2009,” said Mr Browne.
“We believe that British investment here can increase the prosperity of both our countries, and the same the other way around,” said Browne.
Browne impressed with President Aquino’s agenda
In a meeting hosted by the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD), Mr Browne said that he was “impressed” with President Benigno Aquino III’s inaugural speech. Browne welcomed President Aquino’s statements on tackling people’s complaints about corruption, implementing stable economic policies, having a more open and transparent government, making it easier for Filipino businesses to export goods and levelling the playing field for investors to create more jobs for the Filipino people. “His agenda is genuinely exciting for us,” he added.
ICD President Jonathan Juan Moreno agreed. “It makes us in the business community very excited of the fact they are excited, which also reminds us that we do have to keep working hard to sustain this initial burst of excitement from the International Community by trying to substantiate it with real reforms. Trade is underpinned and is largely influenced by governance. Based on my discussions with investors regionally and also UK-based investors, one of the concerns that they have that leads them to look at other markets is our governance system. I hope that our new government who has run and won on the platform of governance would be able to sustain that,” he said.
“The velocity and scale of the trade and business that comes in would only be as far as our governance systems would allow. This is a compelling argument for the Philippines to prove its governance practices and hopefully we could draw more inspiration and better ideas from economies such as the UK which has been relatively known for good governance practices. We would like to not only get their trade but also get their best practices on governance,” Moreno added.