CHINESE businessmen from Hong Kong and Hainan said they are impressed with Iloilo that they look forward to productive cooperation and partnerships in the future.
“Iloilo gives as a strong impression. It has very good resources – not only natural resources but also human resources. We are impressed,” said David Han, vice-chairperson of Hong Kong Hainan Commercial Association (HKHCA) in the Investment Meeting held at Spring Palace Restaurant, May 18, 2017.
A total of 14 Chinese businessmen from Hong Kong and Hainan were in a return trade mission to Iloilo City May 18-20. The group already met the Iloilo public-private sectors in the Iloilo Investment Roadshow in Hong Kong last April 21, 2017. The group is into property development, building of retirement communities and IT-BPO sectors.
“This trip brings us some hopes for future cooperation. For the Chinese, a good start means half-done,” Han said.
Han invited Ilonggos to an investment expo in Hainan and Hong Kong saying he looks forward to returning to Iloilo in the future.
“Hopefully, we can join together to do more business later on,” he added.
During the Investment Meeting, the group met with the political leaders of Iloilo city and province led by Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog and Provincial Administrator Raul Banias, respectively; the private sector led by Iloilo Local Economic Foundation president Narzalina Lim, Iloilo Federation for Information Technology president Jesraf Palmares, Iloilo Business Club, among others; the national government agencies represented by regional directors; and the academe.
In his presentation of Iloilo City’s investment portfolio, Mabilog stressed to the Chinese businessmen anew why it is worth investing in Iloilo City which aims to become a premiere SMART city of excellence.
“SMART is for service, manufacturing, agri-business, arts and culture, research and technology and tourism,” Mabilog said.
Mabilog enumerated the advantages of Iloilo in terms of investor-friendliness:
-accessibility due to presence of international airports and sea ports which connect Iloilo to domestic and international destinations
-competent and quality human resources,
-stable and sustainable utilities
-economic infrastructures like Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Events (MICE) venues
-streamlined business permits and licensing system
-business tax incentives
-environmental protection programs such as solid waste management and sanitary landfill
-healthy lifestyle programs
-presence of IT and financial hub, among others.
“With 20,000 college graduates every year, Iloilo City has a high employment rate of 95.2 percent employment rate as of 2016. If you look for employees, come to Iloilo because you could really be guaranteed with quality and high-skilled personnel,” he stressed.
Mabilog said the business climate in the city is a product of “united Iloilo” where every sector is involved.
“We also do strategic planning and we stick to the plan like the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and the development plans required of us,” he added.
Mabilog said Iloilo is what it is today because of “political will to do what is morally right rather than what is politically correct.”
“This is what transformed Iloilo City to what it is today – a city that is ready for investments, for visitors, and for everyone,” Mabilog concluded.
Iloilo Business Club executive director Lea Lara underscored the importance of strong public-private partnership (PPP) in Iloilo to least entice busy Chinese businessmen to the city.
“I think PPP is one of the things we are very proud to showcase. Ever since, not just investment attraction but growing and sustaining of business, it is a public-private partnership,” Lara said.
Lara said PPP is very important to attract investments.
“Not all cities (have a strong PPP) and that’s what we realized. We should not take it for granted, not all cities have this kind of relationship and very warm business climate for these investors to come. It’s one thing for Filipinos to open here but for foreigners, to actually consider setting up and even moving their family to our place is one thing,” Lara said.
“That’s how we can gauge if we are able to showcase our efforts to develop a good relationship between the private and public sectors. If the relationship between the two is not good, they will not come here,” she added.
At the end of the day, these trade meetings, she said, are important to reach equally important goal: generate jobs for the Ilonggos.