Investors still coming in droves despite political noise, Trump's America First policy

Published in Interkasyon Online and MSN Online.

March 22, 2017

MANILA - Foreign investors particularly business outsourcing firms are still coming in droves despite the local political noise and pronouncements by US President Donald Trump of a policy that would discourage American firms from going offshore.

An indication of the strong presence of the sector is the sustained demand of BPO firms for office spaces, which was sustained up to this year, according to the local unit of property consultancy firm Jones Lang Lasalle.

Based on a study presented Tuesday, 46% of demand for office spaces came from the BPO sector, followed by banking and IT sectors with 12% each.

Claro Cordero, local director for research, consulting and valuation at JLL, said investors are unmindful of the political noise particularly the government's fight against drug abuse.

Trump's "America first" policy, while not yet formally launched, is not likely to dampen firms' drive to invest in the Philippines given the country's already-established BPO infrastructure and deep talent pool, Cordero said.

The company has also noticed an increased demand for office spaces from Chinese investors, given the country's improved relations with China after President Rodrigo Duterte's visit last year.

JLL said there is a growing number of China-based occupants in Makati, particularly in gaming and IT sectors.

JLL's study also indicated the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig remains to be the go-to site for lessees, cornering 45% of the market. This was followed by Makati with 21%, Alabang with 14%, and Ortigas with 7%.

Quezon City cornered 12% of the demand for office spaces. JLL noted that this city had the biggest improvement as firms look for thickly populated areas to make them attractive to its target labor force.

Also pushing the demand for Quezon City are the growing number of mixed-use facilities, namely: UP-Ayala Technohub, Centris, Vertis North, and Ayala Land's development at Balintawak.

"What will probably be affected are the ones that are coming here, the new entrants to the market. They may have a wait-and-see attitude. But the thing that we want to highlight here is that there is no slowdown in demand for BPO growth, for BPO occupants or demands for office spaces coming from the BPO sector."

"We have basically 12-15 years of groundwork in the Philippines. It's very difficult, very challenging for these companies to immediately pull out of Manila."

"We think the existing ones are very confident about the Philippines. There may be issues about that, but they haven't so far slow down or decreased their performance."​


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