Manila, May 24, 2003 -- The Philippines must improve its investment climate 
to attract Spanish investors, who now rank sixth in global capital investments.

"The Philippines has to add extra kick to draw Spanish investors to the 
country," Spanish Ambassador lgnacio Sagaz said yesterday at the press 
launch of Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day.

He said that Spanish investors prefer to put their capital in other 
European countries, Latin America and North Africa because "they have more 
to offer than the others."

In Southeast Asia, Thailand and Singapore have been attracting investors 
from Spain because they have more facilities to offer, the ambassador said.

Sagaz said there is a lot of room for improvement for the Philippines, 
noting that government should be more transparent and strive hard to level 
the playing field for Spanish businessmen.

Statistics from the Department of Foreign Affairs show that during the 
period January-November 2002, Spain ranked 32nd among the Philippines' 
trading partners.

During the first 10 months of 2002, bilateral trade between the Philippines 
and Spain totaled $133.7 million.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said that during the same period, Spanish 
investments in the local stock market amounted to $1.29 million.

The European Union earlier said the unstable political situation and 
volatile peace and security situation in the country would drive away 
foreign investors.

Former Spanish Ambassador Tomas Rodriguez-Pantoja urged the Arroyo 
administration to be more transparent and create a system of attracting 
more businesses to the Philippines.

He said European investors consider the country's current policies on 
foreign investments "unsavory."

The Philippines, according to Pantoja, has to come up with clear 
regulations on how investments should be done.

The Spanish envoy noted that in the past four years, many Spanish companies 
have closed shop because they could not generate profits.

Pantoja said government must first help itself to make the country 
attractive to investments.

According to Pantoja, Spain is ready to try to stimulate EU investment in 
the country but it will again ask the government to make an effort to 
create favorable conditions.

Over the last 10 years, the EU has been the largest source of foreign 
direct investments in the Philippines, overtaking Japan and the US.

Direct EU investments in the Philippines accounted for nearly one-fourth of 
total FDI in the country in 1990-2000, but this has gone down. (By MARILOU 
T. JUMILLA, Malaya)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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