MANILA, September 10, 2005
 (STAR) President Gloria Arroyo will take up with top American businessmen a whole range of issues during her visit to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly and World Summit next week.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila said Friday American businessmen were eager to discuss with the Philippine President a wide range of topics.

These include the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) relating to tariff structures, the status of Philippine food exports to the US, e-commerce legislation and foreign investment in the power sector.

Favila said he has received several requests from US business groups for a meeting with the President but her schedule is "very tight, I am not sure whether we can accommodate more requests."

Favila, who is joining the President in her US trip, said US businessmen were also looking forward to discuss fiscal incentives to investors, biotechnology commercialization, mining sector liberalization and intellectual property rights.

Also accompanying the President is Finance Secretary Gary Teves.

The DTI chief said that while the intellectual property office (IPO) has done a lot of changes in addressing the concerns over the enforcement of intellectual property rights, the Philippines remains in the watch list of IPR violators.

Also on the President’s New York itinerary is an investors’ forum to be hosted by Credit Swiss First Boston, as well as a dinner meeting with selected US businessmen to be hosted by J.P. Morgan.

"Essentially, the meetings would give everybody an update on the business environment in the Philippines today. We need to answer the concerns that they have raised, that they have communicated to us through various foreign chambers in the Philippines," Favila said.

He said he and Teves have been meeting regularly with members of various foreign chambers of commerce in the country.

He added that the concerns raised by foreign businessmen range from the stability of government policies, "consistency of our regulatory policies as well as the integrity of agreements being entered into here in the Philippines."

Favila also said that US businessmen "never really took up with me any issues or questions with respect to the political event taking place here in Manila." He said the Americans are more focused on how far the government is implementing its economic reform agenda.

"They are very happy that the reformed VAT (Valued Added Tax) Law" was declared constitutional by the Supreme Court, he said.

Also welcomed by the foreign business groups are the ongoing infrastructure projects being undertaken by the government such as the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), the completion of the Batangas Port and the proposed widening of the Bunye road in Las Pinas.

Despite rise in RP exports in July, analysts still bullish 09/09 4:26:17 PM

MANILA (AFP) - Analysts were expressed wariness despite the rise of Philippine exports by 11.4 percent year-on-year in July to 3.46 billion dollars as the key electronics sector made a strong recovery and China shipments boomed.

The National Statistics Office said the July performance was a sharp improvement over the 1.2 percent gain in June.

However, for the seven months to July, exports showed a much more modest gain of only 4.6 percent at 22.90 billion dollars, continuing to fall short of the government's target of eight percent growth for this year.

Electronics exports, which accounted for 66.2 percent of total shipments in July, were up 14.2 percent to 2.29 billion dollars after a fall of 4.6 percent in June.

Despite the monthly improvement, electronics exports for the seven months period also posted only mediocre growth, at 2.4 percent to 14.9 billion dollars, and industry officials were pessimistic about the outlook.

Ernie Santiago, executive director of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc., the industry association, said the group no longer expected the 10 percent growth it had originally forecast for this year.

"Before June we were bullish with our full-year growth forecast of 10 percent but now we expect growth of only five percent. We may not even see any growth at all this year," he said.

"Our operations are being hampered by a number of problems such as rising fuel costs and power interruptions. That's why we have downscaled our growth forecast," he said.

China's emergence as a major export market for the Philippines was probably a result of more foreign clients of local electronic companies relocating there, he added.

For July, Japan was the main market, taking 598 million dollars or 17.3 percent of total exports, followed by the United States with 16.8 percent and China on 16.4 percent or 568 million dollars -- representing an increase of more than 200 percent over last year.

The recovery of exports in July was remarkable "considering that all variables pointed towards a decline, particularly the concerns about oil prices affecting the global economy," said Jose Vistan of AB Capital Inc.

He credited China as the "main driver" for the rise, saying it had emerged as a new market for the Philippines as high oil prices took their toll on traditional customers such as the United States and Japan.

"It is more likely that China is preparing production for December so they are gearing up ... you will probably see sustained growth (in Chinese demand) for the next two months," Vistan said.

On this basis, he said a 10 percent rise in exports in the next two months was possible but warned that "once (the Chinese) have stocked up enough inventory, we might have a reversal ... towards the end of the year."

Vistan said a long-term rise in exports was "doubtful because of the difficult environment caused by rising energy prices."

He also expressed doubt the Philippines would attain its eight percent export growth target for the full year.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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