European businesses aren’t exactly enamored with the widespread corruption in the Philippines, according to Joona Selin, Executive Director of the recently formed Nordic Business Council of the Philippines (NBCP). Over a lunch meeting today, Joona explained that corruption and the ease of doing business with the Philippines are barriers to entry, but, the “business climate today is very promising” because of the country’s very strong economic growth.
The Philippines economy expanded 7.8% in the first quarter of 2013, with full-year growth at 6.8% the past year.
Many regard Europe as a tourist destination, said Erik Nielsen, VP at NBCP, “we aim to promote the Philippines’ IT, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) / Business Process Management (BPM), and creative industries and foster more business linkages between the Nordic and Baltic regions and the Philippines.” Erik’s day job is running the operations at Global Process Manager, a Magsaysay group. He’s been a resident of the Philippines for almost ten years now.
Nordic countries include Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the Baltic region includes Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
“Our foremost priority is to create and promote success stories, such as that of Tieto, to the Nordic and Baltic regions,” said Joona. Tieto, a leading European software R&D and IT consulting company, has a big team in Cebu, one of the go-to software outsourcing cities in the Philippines.
Joona hails from Finpro, a national trade, internationalization and investment development organization based in Finland. Joona’s full time job is with NBCP. He came to the Philippines in 2011 and has successfully carried out 13 management consulting assignments for Finnish companies in the Education, Energy, Healthcare, ICT, Maritime, and Mining industries looking into doing business in the Philippines.
He mentioned that NBCP is organizing a trade mission to Europe in the near future. “If we could enable Europe companies to gain more insight about the Philippines, and vice versa, and then cross-pollinate, it would be a tremendous boost to both our economies.”
NBCP says its key focus areas include ICT, energy, and maritime / shipping.
I am reminded of PNoy’s remark at the recent WEF: “Today, all the factors are in place: political stability, low inflation and low borrowing rates, opportunities for growth in almost all sectors, a government committed to integrity and empowerment, and a people known the world over for their industry, loyalty, and creativity.”
Erik added: “PAL can now fly to Europe again and that’s fantastic news.”
Indeed, it is. I told the two gentlemen that the Philippines’ software outsourcing industry is showing no signs of slowing down with almost $1.2billion in revenues and half a million workforce. The larger IT BPM market in the Philippines reached $13.2 billion in export revenues last year.