European investors in the country have learned to discount or becoming immune to the rhetorics and outbursts of President Duterte, the last time calling for the expulsion of EU diplomats for interference in the country’s policy on illegal drugs, as both EU and the Philippines both shared rosy bilateral economic relations with record exports projection of $10 billion this year.
Guenter Taus, president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) told reporters covering the EU-Philippines Business Summit at Solaire Resorts they EU business community are now getting used to the President’s outbursts.
“We’re getting immune to certain things, and that is a very good sign,” Taus said adding, “It is business as usual, nothing has changed and we intend to keep it that way, we all have rocky roads sometimes but ECCP has been here in the country for 40 years and intend to stay for 40 years if not for 400 years.”
“There is no reason for us to leave the country or think investments are not coming. Everything comes in cycles, it goes up and it goes down, we’ve heard it before and it has not much effect us,” said Taus noting that aside from an upcoming energy mission from EU and the EU-Philippines Business Network is very active in trade missions and there have been lots of trade and interests going propelled by the government’s strong GDP growth of 6-7 percent.
EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen, also painted a rosy picture exports performance in a speech at the same Business Summit. The ambassador projected that Philippine exports to the EU this year could hit $10 billion.
As of the first semester this year, Philippine exports to the EU already reached over $4.6 billion, a remarkable 36 percent increase over the same period last year, making EU the second largest export market for Filipino exports. The country’s total exports to the EU last year reached $6.7 billion.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, who earlier an admonition of sort to the EU business participants, also shared Jessen’s export project.
“At the rate we’re growing, we are going 30 percent it should be close to $10 billion in exports this year to EU because we are almost $7 billion already,” said Lopez.
But before Lopez could focus on his prepared speech, the DTI secretary did not mince words when he said: “Any interference is viewed as preventing us from doing our job. Any interference in the pursuit of this program will never sit well with any of us in government, especially with our passionate President. We can all expect a strong reaction against any form of interference.”
This was in relation to the President’s recent pronouncement calling for the expulsion of EU diplomats in the country within 24 hours after a group of parliamentarians belonging to the Progressive Alliance and Party of European Socialists has called on the Duterte administration to put a stop to the thousands of killings blamed on its continuing war on drugs. The seven-man delegation also warned that the Philippines could lose its Generalized Scheme of Preferences or GSP Plus status which allows 6,200 products to enter EU duty-free among European Union countries might be affected if the killings would continue.