Philippine-Malaysian partnership made a significant stride with the revitalization of the Malaysia-Philippines Business Council (MPBC) in Kuala Lumpur.
The relaunch of this bilateral business partnership was formalized during a luncheon last May 28 at the Berjaya Times Square Hotel, which was attended by leading chief executive officers (CEOs) of companies investing in the two countries, and graced by the presence of Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, who was in Malaysia as keynote speaker of the Philippines-Malaysia Investment Partnership Forum held on May 29.
Present during the lunch were AlloyMTD (formerly MTD Capital Bhd) President and CEO Dato Azmil Khalid, Berjaya Group Bhd Chairman Tan Sri Dr. Vincent Tan, Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J. Eduardo Malaya, Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Dato Seri Dr. Ibrahim Saad, and officials from Maybank, Petron, CIMB and PLDT Malaysia, among others.
The revitalization of the MPBC was spearheaded by Ambassador Malaya and Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry Dato Dato’ Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
During the lunch, Dato Azmil Khalid accepted the offer of becoming MPBC’s chairman pro-tempore, and highlighted the hope that the MPBC would be revitalized under his watch.
“When I was asked by Malaysian Minister of Trade and Industry Dato’ Sri Mustapha Mohamed and Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Ed Malaya to be the Pro-tem Chair of the MPBC, a council that has been unfortunately dormant over the last few years, I accepted this challenge because I believe in this cause, having gone through it myself with MTD. God willing, your visit here today will provide the impetus for the MPBC and the Philippine-Malaysia Business Council (PMBC) to further deepen the exchanges between the business councils of the two countries. Exciting times lay ahead and its imperative the two business communities of Philippines and Malaysia seize these opportunities,” he said.
Vice President Binay welcomed the relaunch of the business council.
“It is an honor and pleasure to be among the leaders of Malaysian and Philippine businesses who have been and are ‘crossing over’ to invest in each other’s countries, and to be present in a re-forging of another important link between the Philippines and Malaysia. I would like to extend my gratitude to all of you in taking on the challenge of reviving the MPBC, and also for the Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) for facilitating the effort,” he said.
“The revitalization of the MPBC has never been more pressing and relevant. Two-way trade and investment between our two countries has been picking up for the past couple of years - an encouraging development that everyone present at this luncheon knows very well, because you guys were doing enough to start and realize it and are following through. Next-door neighbors should be helping each other, and I would like to think that our two countries are very good next-door neighbors,” the Vice President added.
For his part, Makati Business Club and PMBC Executive Director Peter Angelo Perfecto said that there is a need to revive the council, considering developments on their side.
“On the Philippine side, our founding chairman, Atty. Ricardo Romulo, has retired from active participation in the Council since last year. The Malaysian ambassador to Manila is also scheduled to end his tour of duty soon. With these transitions on our end, we are challenged to continue PMBC’s mission as we look forward to Asean’s economic integration by 2015. Thus, today’s meeting rekindles hope and a spirit of cooperation based on our common private sector goals to further bilateral trade, investments, SMEs (small and medium enterprises), and information exchanges,” he said.
The MPBC a forum of Malaysian and Filipino businesses invested in each other’s countries, which aims to identify and develop areas of cooperation between Philippine and Malaysian private sectors, to encourage and develop further investment, trade links, and joint exploration of business opportunities in third countries.
It was originally established in 1996.
The Council also aims to identify business opportunities, particularly at the level of small- and medium-sized enterprises; and to enhance networking, contacts, and exchange of information between the private sectors of both countries.
The Philippines and Malaysia are both experiencing a surge in two-way investments, as evidenced by the recent joint venture between PLDT Global and Axiata Corporation, investment of CIMB Bank in Bank of Commerce worth some RM1 billion (P196 billion), the expansion of operations of AlloyMTD Group, Genting Resorts World and Maybank in the Philippines, as well as the entry of San Miguel Corporation in Esso Malaysia Bhd. through investments worth at least US$610 million.
In 2011, Malaysia was the Philippines’ ninth largest trading partner, with total trade amounting to US$3.7 billion, while it was the Philippines’ 11th largest export and eight largest import market. Total Philippine exports to Malaysia in 2011 were valued at US$1 billion, while imports from Malaysia during the same year amounted to US$2.6 billion.