Incoming president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr is expected to enhance bilateral ties between Singapore and the Philippines, said the Philippine ambassador to Singapore.
In an interview to mark Independence Day on Sunday (June 12), ambassador Joseph del Mar Yap told financial broadsheet The Business Times, "We foresee that the new administration will continue the programmes of the Duterte administration, especially in the sectors of infrastructure, renewable energy and the digital economy, which should continue to attract foreign investors, especially from Singapore which remains a top source of FDI for the Philippines.”
He added that Marcos, who has been a regular visitor to the city-state, is expected to be a continuity president who will continue and expand the infrastructure programme of the Duterte administration and continue to focus on post-pandemic recovery.
Yap noted that Singapore was the country's top source of foreign direct investment in 2019 and 2021, with a total investment value of US$1.6 billion in 2021. It was also the Philippines' top 6th major trading partner in 2021, despite the pandemic.
Areas of collaboration
The ambassador pointed to significant opportunities for Singapore businessmen, such as the booming manufacturing sector, where the economic recovery is in full swing. Manufacturing output as measured by the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) climbed to 53.2 in March, its highest point in 3 years.
Yap noted that fintech is also very promising as the Philippines is one of the fastest-growing fintech destinations. For example, the growth of digital payments in the country is estimated to be 27 to 30 per cent, higher than the 25 per cent in emerging Asian neighbours.
In addition, the two countries could strengthen their partnership in digitalising micro, small-and-medium enterprises (MSMEs). Yap also noted other possible joint ventures and areas for investments in the Philippines such as smart cities, interconnectivity, digital technologies and startups, renewable energy and infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the tourism sector in the Philippines is on the road to recovery with the lifting of border restrictions. Data from the Philippines Bureau of Immigration shows a 40 per cent increase in the number of visitors from 150,740 in January this year to 211,899 in February 2022.
However, tourism revenues are not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2023.
Filipinos in Singapore
The ambassador noted that the demographics of the estimated 200,000 Filipinos living and working in Singapore has changed significantly over time. About 60 per cent of them are now professionals and skilled workers, while the rest are household service workers.
in light of the impact of COVID-19 on the Singapore economy, the Filipino community has also been affected. The most severely affected sectors are those that rely on international travel, such as air transport, accommodation and tourism-related sectors.
Consumer facing sectors such as retail and food services were also affected by the cutback in domestic consumption amid COVID curbs such as the “circuit breaker”.