In his recent visit to the Philippines, Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce (SACC) President Dr. Urs Lustenberger agrees with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Ponciano C. Manalo, Jr. that the country is benefiting from a snowballing momentum given its robust and growing economy.

“The Philippines is set in the perfect slot with the perfect momentum for the oncoming moment of the AEC (ASEAN Economic Community) in 2015, and we are here to see how you can benefit from that,” Lustenberger said during the trade and investment forum arranged by the Board of Investments (BOI) and Foreign Trade Service Corps (FTSC) for the Swiss business mission to the Philippines.

Lustenberger, who is also the Chairman of the Executive Board and Legal Affairs of the SACC, led the delegation to the Philippines. The delegation’s visit in Manila and Cebu were arranged through the Philippine Embassy in Berne and DTI’s Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Geneva.

“Whenever something is snowballing, there is an easy way to jump into that snowball. Companies in Switzerland have to look at the region that they want to possibly expand to and benefit from the growth taking place (in the Philippines),” Lustenberger said in an interview at the sidelines of the forum.

In the next few years, Lustenberger does not see an onset of more business delegations but the onset of actual entrepreneurs that will set up businesses in the Philippines.

“Our purpose for being here is to get a first-hand impression as an organization. Now, we want to talk to our members that did not participate in this delegation and point out from our first-hand experience,” Lustenberger added.

Lustenberger noted that the service sector is now having big interest in the success story of what has happened in the Philippines. He added that not everyone has noticed that the country is the number one voice and number two non-voice outsourcing destination in the world.

“Once you noticed that and you think about outsourcing, the Philippines is high up in the list of considerations. This is what we see happening,” Lustenberger said.

According to Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), in terms of employment, the information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) the industry’s workforce count rose to 917,529 last year from 776,794 in 2012. Out of its total workforce in 2013, it recorded a 586,000 workforce for the voice BPM.

He also noted that the Philippines is a good place to manufacture. “Typically, in manufacturing, you would look at things that the market itself could use. The Philippines with 100 million inhabitants is a big market by itself,” he added.

He said that he would advise companies to look at the Philippines as a market for their product. Then, once they learn to service the Philippine market, they may think about exporting.

In his welcome message, Manalo invited the delegation to make the Philippines as their gateway to the ASEAN. He also mentioned that the country has 100 million people which is a market, and there are 500 million more people in the West, referring to the population of other ASEAN countries.

In the same forum, Nestlé Philippines Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Martin Miller likewise mentioned the following points on choosing the Philippines: top quality talent, young population, expected to hit the demographic ‘sweet spot’ in the next 5 years, harmonious industrial relations, strong consumer base, presence of various businesses, 16th largest economy by 2050 (according to HSBC), and strong government support.

Nestlé Philippines, a Swiss multinational food and beverage company headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland, has been in the Philippines for 103 years.

According to BOI, there are about 60 Swiss companies operating in the Philippines that employ around 15,000 Filipinos. By nature of activity, 75 percent of these companies belong to the service sector, and 25 percent to the industrial sector. (END)