Japanese businesses concerned over PHL traffic, logistics issues

Motorists are seen stuck in traffic along the southbound lane of the Southern Luzon Expressway (SLEX) in this file photo. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

JAPANESE BUSINESSES are concerned about traffic congestion and inadequate logistics infrastructure in the Philippines, which they say are hampering more investments.

Takashi Ueno, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Uyeno Transtech Ltd., said the Philippine government should enact policies to improve the business environment, particularly to address traffic congestion.

“Compared to 20 years ago, traffic congestion has not improved much,” he said in a presentation during the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) Economic Dialogue on Tuesday.

Mr. Ueno, who spoke through a translator, said the Philippines can address traffic congestion by improving public transportation and implementing “appropriate traffic regulations for private cars.”

He also suggested the introduction of “mechanisms for companies to promote the introduction of renewable energy.”

For his part, PCCI President George T. Barcelon said they are urging the government to consider measures to decongest Metro Manila.

“It’s about time that we move out some of the key sectors outside of Metro Manila. Other countries are doing it (like) Indonesia… We’re not (going to) solve (traffic) in any way, no matter how innovative we are. The more Skyways that we build they’re still landing on the same place, so it doesn’t help,” Mr. Barcelon told reporters on the sidelines of the event.

According to news reports, Indonesia is planning to relocate its capital from Jakarta to Nusantara by 2045

Meanwhile, Hiroshi Oshima, president of Sembikiya Fruit Co. Ltd., said the company has faced logistics problems when importing pineapples and bananas from the Philippines.

“We also need stable supply, so we would like the Philippines to improve logistics infrastructure to help optimize logistics distribution,” he said through a translator at the same event.

Mr. Oshima noted that Philippine bananas are not being “stably imported to Japan,” which is why bananas from Ecuador are getting more market share. He said the Philippines should improve the varieties of fruit that are more resilient to climate change.

Trade Undersecretary and Board of Investments (BoI) Managing Head Ceferino S. Rodolfo said they recognize the need to modernize existing agricultural plantations, particularly for bananas.

“The BoI is now finalizing a policy for modernization of agricultural plantations,” he said, adding it will be out before the end of November.

PCCI’s Mr. Barcelon said the Philippines can potentially increase fruit exports to Japan.

“The agriculture (sector) in Japan has been facing some challenges because of their aging population. It will be good if they look into the Philippines as an investment area wherein through their innovation and farming equipment they can improve our productivity,” he added.

Messrs. Ueno and Oshima are part of the JCCI economic mission to the Philippines, which consists of 70 Japanese businessmen representing the top management of key companies.

The Japanese economic mission led by JCCI Chair Ken Kobayashi paid a courtesy call with President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Monday evening.

A Palace statement quoted Mr. Kobayashi as saying the Philippines’ “stable and high-level economic growth in recent years have attracted Japanese investors to develop their operations in anticipation of increased workforce population as well as domestic demand.”

“The Socioeconomic 8-Point Agenda that you have announced, Mr. President, prioritizes social security and the development of human capital. Also, it establishes the investment promotion, strengthening of digital infrastructure, the promotion of the green economy, and so forth, through which you are aiming at expanding and creating jobs,” Mr. Kobayashi said. “And it is expected that in these fields that we can see the further promotion of the cooperation between our two countries.”

JCCI is described as the largest business organization in Japan with 1.25-million member companies. — J.I.D.Tabile

Neil Banzuelo

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