Swedish firms keen on PH infra program
Photo: Expanded highway in General Santos City

MANILA -- Swedish companies have taken an interest in various infrastructure endeavors and other industries that are picking up momentum in the Philippines, noting the country’s strong economic performance can provide opportunities for growth.

Ulf Wennblom, country manager of Business Sweden in the Philippines, said infrastructure spending is increasing in the Philippines on the back of the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program, and its importance to the local economy is expected to “grow even more” in the years to come.

“Swedish suppliers that can offer equipment, solutions and services for critical applications will be able to find a good, profitable and high growth market for years to come in the Philippines,” Wennblom said in a press briefing Monday, as he presented results of a survey of Swedish business in the Philippines conducted in December 2018 and January 2019.

He noted various opportunities available in three areas, namely government, private sector through public-private partnership (PPP), and official development assistance (ODA)-funded projects.

“Airport projects, that’s one area that are of very much interested in with regards to building infrastructure. For example, construction equipment but for technology of the airports also, that’s innovative technologies to keep the airports safe,” he added.

Wennblom said Swedish firms are likewise keen on participating in urban transport, particularly bus rapid transport, building roads and bridges, as well as on smart city concept to support regional capitals.

Apart from infrastructure, he cited three key growth sectors in the Philippines for Swedish businesses to participate in, which are manufacturing, retail and e-commerce, and information technology-business process management (IT-BPM).

A report titled “Philippines – Open for Business” published by Business Sweden said the manufacturing sector in the Philippines is expected to grow steadily in the coming years.

“It will be a priority investment area for both the public and private sector, given that it has higher employment, income and output multipliers compared to other industries,” it said.

Swedish companies also see the dynamics of the country’s IT-BPM driven by rapid technological advancements, such as automation, artificial intelligence, digital transformation and the use of big data and analytics, it added.

The report further cited the steady increase in consumer spending in the Philippines, with domestic consumption accounting for nearly more than 70 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) over the last two years.

Wennblom further said two to three Swedish companies are entering the Philippine market every year.

“That’s very positive and we think the trend will continue even more because of the economic fundamentals here and because of the positive outlook,” he added.

Ambassador Harald Fries of the Embassy of Sweden in Manila is optimistic that more Swedish companies will do business in the Philippines, noting its more than 100 million population and growing middle class.

“Even some Swedish companies are looking at the Philippines to set up plants. These are some examples of which is also a good sign that they believe in the Philippines long term; they are willing to start up manufacturing here,” he said in an interview.

Fries said there are 20 large Swedish multinational companies, and 30 to 40 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that have established in the Philippines.

These 20 large Swedish companies, 13 of them were respondents for the survey, have combined revenue of PHP30 billion. (PNA)