Business leaders in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have cited good governance as among the major reasons for increased investments in the region during a meeting with Switzerland’s ambassador to the Philippines Andrea Reichlin.
The main subject of the meeting, hosted recently by the Regional Board of Investments (RBOI), was on inclusive peace and development in ARMM. The business leaders noted their active participation, as well as that of other civil society groups, in consultations and monitoring of the regional government’s projects and policies has been effective in promoting peace and development under the administration of Governor Mujiv Hataman.
The group further expressed confidence that the climate for investments in the ARMM would remain positive this year. Last year, RBOI posted P6.5 billion in fresh capital infusion, the best year ever in terms of investments in the 25-year history of the ARMM.
In January, RBOI chairman Ishak Mastura said, the region already exceeded its investment target of P700 million for 2016 with the registration of the P1.3 million oil-palm plantation project of Gintong Agri, Inc. in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.
The business group comprises officials of the Promotion of Investment Sustainability Organization (PISO), the Metro Cotabato Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Muslim Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kutawato, the Bangsamoro Business Club, and big business investors in the region, such as Lamsan Corn Starch factory, Agumil Oil Palm Milling, Unifrutti Banana Plantation and Matling Cassava Starch Milling.
PISO is the organization of all RBOI-registered firms co-convened with RBOI by Edgardo Bullecer of the Unifrutti Group, one of the biggest foreign investors in the ARMM with its P3.7 billion Cavendish banana project in Maguindanao.
Also at hand to welcome Ambassador Reichlin was Cotabato City Administrator Dr. Danda Juanday, former Bangsamoro Development Agency chairman, an active civil society and business leader and proponent of peace and development in the region.
It was the Swiss ambassador’s first visit to the region. She was accompanied by the Swiss embassy’s Human Security advisor and First Secretary Martina Schmidt.
RBOI chairman Mastura said the ARMM regional government and the Bangsamoro people are grateful to the government of Switzerland for its active support to peace and development, particularly in sponsoring the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission, a body established in the peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Based on latest government data, there are an estimated 60 Swiss companies operating in the Philippines employing around 12,000 people. The biggest and most well-known among the Swiss brands in the country is food conglomerate, Nestle, which has been operating in the Philippines since 1911.
Relations with the Philippines were established in 1862, when Switzerland opened its consulate in Manila. Bilateral trade in 2014 stood at an estimated US$557 million. The two governments concluded on March 3 their 7th political consultations in Berne, the capital of Switzerland, in preparation for the 2nd Session of the Philippines-Switzerland Joint Economic Commission, which will take place in April this year. (Bureau of Public Information)