Philippines Is Open For Business Under New Mgmt — President Aquino

CEBU CITY, Cebu - President Benigno Aquino III is strongly encouraging investors in the Asia Pacific region to capitalize on Cebu's dynamic business environment by exploring business opportunities here and the rest of the country.

"I am confident that you can see a revitalized community here. We have planted the seeds of reform and have been reaping the results," the President said in a speech read for him by Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras before delegates of the Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) conference held in Cebu City last March 15.

The two-day CACCI Conference, which started March 14, was attended by some 475 international and local delegates from 19 countries in the Asia Pacific region.

In his keynote speech, President Aquino assured that the "Philippines is open for business under new management," and that his government has put in place mechanisms that will assure investors growth in their stake in the country.

He said, Cebu, for instance, is home to six economic zones, three of which are export processing zones in Mactan. Other economic zones include a ship building yard in the west coast town of Balamban, one economic zone is in northern Danao City, and the Cebu IT Park, which is a busy hub of call centers.

Data from the Cebu Investment and Promotions Center show that in Cebu, 278 locators in these six economic zones employ 107,170 employees who are paid an average monthly salary of P13,000.

Recent data also reveal that locators in Cebu's economic zones produce some $3.58 billion in goods, including semiconductors and electronic products.

On a national scale, Aquino cited the country's 6.6 gross domestic product (GDP) last year, saying this surpassed growth estimates of the government.

He underlined, "there is a level playing field for all investors here," adding that "government is chaneling more funds into education, health and social services and has made strides in reducing corruption that has hindered economic growth in the past," the President said.

Almendras, for his part, said no government can make good the economy on its own without the private sector. He acknowledged that chambers of commerce have a big role to play when it comes to economic growth.

"The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry CCCI has a significant role in how this city has grown," he said.

In a press conference, CCCI president Lito Maderazo, said Cebu's hosting of the CACCI marks the beginning of more active promotion for Cebu.

"The economic driver of Cebu is trade and investments aside from being an education capital in the region. Consider this conference a coming out party for us in making Cebu an investment hub not only for the country but in Asia-Pacific," said Maderazo.

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