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India invited to invest in PHL tech sector

THE PHILIPPINES has invited India to invest in its technology sector, with the Department of Finance (DoF) touting the potential of an industrial park in Batangas to serve as a possible regional base for Indian companies.

During the virtual launch of the KIST Park in Batangas, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III invited Indian investors to tap the Philippine workforce in establishing their base within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, where barriers are falling due to recent trade agreements.

“We can tap and complement our respective advantages. The Philippines has a highly educated workforce that can provide intellectual capital to locator industries in the KIST Park. This is an opportunity for India to create an ecosystem for its leading startups to establish their presence in the Philippines. Our country can even serve as India’s ASEAN regional base,” Mr. Dominguez said during the launch on Monday.

He said India, through its Ambassador Shambhu S. Kumaran, has expressed interest in helping the Philippines with digitalization.

Without citing details, Mr. Dominguez also said in his speech that India is also willing to fund the establishment of small information technology centers in Philippine schools and universities.

“We are natural partners. We are both English-speaking democracies with aligned trade and development interests. Both our countries will benefit from this partnership through enhanced knowledge sharing, increased investments, and more job opportunities for our two peoples,” he added.

He said the country needs more innovative projects similar to KIST, located within the Batangas State University campus, to drive economic growth as well as make the economy more competitive and inclusive.

The impending signing of the proposed Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE) will also further boost innovation, according to Mr. Dominguez, as it provides an additional deduction of 100% on costs incurred for research and development expenses, which businesses creating new products are entitled to.

“CREATE will open up numerous doors of opportunity for the Philippines and India to collaborate in the knowledge economy,” he said.

The DoF has said that India has pledged aid to the Philippines in setting up its national ID system and broadband networks.

Asked to comment, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (Phil.), Inc. Chairman Rakesh Daryanani said that the organization remains bullish on investment prospects for the country, with more Indian firms selecting the Philippines as an investment destination.

“I think that’s true not only for tech startups but… for many industries. The Philippines has an amazing and a very good English-speaking workforce, and India as a country is very strong when it comes to technology so certainly, we see a lot of opportunities for Indian companies to set up shop in the Philippines and use local talent in rolling out different technology,” Mr. Daryanani said by phone.

However, he said investors find it difficult to obtain visas, which he cited as a significant hurdle.

“What we see as a hindrance to making that happen is the visa policy which makes it very difficult to get visas. Currently, the processes really need to be streamlined and improved,” he said. — Beatrice M. Laforga

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