, April 23, 2005
 (STAR) By Aurea Calica  –  President Arroyo invited participants to the Asian-African Business Summit here yesterday to invest in the country’s mining and automotive industries vowing that the government was working hard on security, corruption and other concerns to make businesses thrive in the Philippines.

However, the President stressed at the same time the Philippines would not tolerate exploitation of its resources and its workers.

"We want to announce to the world that the Philippine mining sector is open for business," she said.

According to the President, the Philippines is considered number five among the mineral powers in the world as far as potential is concerned but its "protectionist" policy before stopped foreign investors from coming in.

But with the Supreme Court ruling liberalizing the mining industry, the President said the government could now hope for sufficient capital to explore the country’s natural resources.

In her speech ‘Managing for Global Competitiveness’ as a resource person along with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the President cited the Liberal policies now being adopted by the country to encourage foreign investments in the Philippines.

She noted that investors were going to Canada, Australia, Japan, America and China instead of the Philippines, which can also compete with countries like Indonesia with huge mineral resources.

"We are all looking for foreign investments and we need that for a better day for our children and the generations to come," she said.

The President particularly called on African businessmen to expand their meager trade with the Philippines. "We invite the African mining industry to invest in our rich but still largely untapped mineral resources," she said.

Aside from mining, the President said she wants to add Africa to "our growing list of automobile export markets."

The President said the current market for the Philippine automotive industry was limited and should expand as soon as possible.

At present, the President disclosed the Philippines sells cement, garments, gear boxes of motor vehicles and aircraft parts and buys tobacco, iron and steel, smart cards, cotton, sardines and copper from African countries.

South Africa is the country’s largest African trading partner, followed by Mauritius as the second largest African export market.

"It is you, the businessmen – it is the free, open and competitive markets that must ultimately drive the engine of job creation and the eventual elimination of poverty in many countries of our two regions," she said.

The President said she was committed to eliminating corruption and promoting transparency in her government to attract domestic and foreign investment as wells as develop energy independence to protect businesses and the governments from the rising oil prices in the world market.

She called on world leaders to unite to find solutions to avert a full-blown global economic crisis due to the continuous increases in the prices of oil.

"But I will not give a green light to unfettered exploitation of workers, the laws or the environment in pursuit of cut and run economic exploitation. I want to encourage full, lifetime partnerships with businesses. We must always provide balance and think about the long-term well-being of the entire nation," she said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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