Republic of the Philippines

50 Hobson Street, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand 6011

Philippine Ambassadors meet with top offcials of the Wellington employers' Chamber of Commerce

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Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez with Chief Executive Officer Ken Harris (right) and Director Jeremy Harding (left) of the Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce

As part of the Philippine Embassy’s continuing drive to promote economic cooperation and trade, tourism and investment priorities in New Zealand, Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Virginia H. Benavidez met with Messrs. Ken Harris and Jeremy Harding, Chief Executive Officer and Director for International Policy respectively, of the Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce (WECC) on 19 October 2011 at the WECC offices in Wellington, New Zealand.

The WECC is the voice of business in Wellington City. The Chamber has 1600 member companies/businessmen – by far the biggest business network in Wellington, the third largest city in New Zealand after Auckland and Christchurch. Furthermore many businesses choose to establish a presence in Wellington due to the fact that the city is the capital of New Zealand. Hence the Chamber serves as a very important bridge between the New Zealand Government and the private sector.

Ambassador Benavidez, together with Minister Marcos A.S. Punsalang, gave a briefing to Messrs. Harris and Harding on the progress being made by the Philippine economy and opportunities in the Philippines in the areas of bilateral trade and investment. These would cover Philippine home design products, seafood processing and re-export, information technology/business processing outsourcing (IT/BPO), E-governance, geothermal energy and enhancing air connectivity. The Ambassador highlighted to the officers of the Chamber that the Philippines is open for business and that President Benigno C. Aquino III is strengthening the foundations for a favorable environment to do business in the Philippines through his anti–corruption and transparency measures as well as his campaign to promote accountability through the 5Rs – right project, right people, right cost, right quality and right on time.

Mr. Harris was impressed with the huge strides in the Philippine economy, particularly with the giant Philippine IT/BPO industry, the second largest in the world. The industry generated US $9 billion (NZ $11 billion) in revenues, employed 540,000 Filipinos in 2010 and surpassed India as the number one provider of voice services. Furthermore, the Philippine IT/BPO industry will likely attain its targets of US $ 25 billion (NZ $30 billion) growth and generate direct employment for 1.4 million Filipinos by 2016. He agreed with the observation of Ambassador Benavidez that there are many “brilliant” New Zealand software companies which could benefit by investing in the Philippine IT/BPO industry. By doing so they could greatly expand their markets by tapping into the Philippine IT/BPO industry which has a wide network of global clients. He encouraged the Ambassador to continue promoting opportunities in the Philippine IT/BPO industry with Kiwi (as New Zealanders like to call themselves) businessmen.

Mr. Harris was heartened to know the joint partnership between Prime Foods New Zealand, New Zealand’s second largest salmon processing company, and Alliance Select Foods International, a leading canned tuna producer in the Philippines. Both companies set up a joint venture company, the Big Glory Bay Salmon and Seafood, in General Santos City. The company built and equipped a modern processing facility which processes salmon from New Zealand for re-export to international markets. Business has been so good that the company has plans for further plant expansion. Mr. Harris stated that the Philippines should not limit itself to importing finished New Zealand products and proposed an arrangement similar to the aforementioned example wherein Philippine manufacturers could add value to New Zealand products and re-export them. Among such products would be seafood, wine and timber/wood products.

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