European investors in Southeast Asia are least satisfied with the Philippine government on how it responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a survey.
Based on the 2020 EU-Asean Business Sentiment Survey, the Philippines recorded the lowest satisfaction rating at 12 percent on Covid-19 response among Southeast Asian countries. The score was so dismal it missed the regional average of 32 percent.
Even worse, a third of European investors in the Philippines reported they are dissatisfied with the actions taken by authorities to contain the transmission of the virus.
On the contrary, European firms are most satisfied with the Covid-19 response of Vietnam, 63 percent; Thailand, 59 percent; Singapore, 58 percent; and Malaysia, 46 percent. Further, Hanoi had none of its investors dissatisfied with its pandemic measures.
In terms of business plans, 56 percent of European investors said they may expand operations here, while 10 percent admitted they look to reduce business activities.
Among Southeast Asian nations, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand received the highest level of intent to expand from European firms. In Indonesia, 74 percent of respondents disclosed they plan to improve operations, while it’s 72 percent in Vietnam and 65 percent in Thailand.
Further, a third of European firms in the Philippines lamented they were never consulted by the policymakers on how to address the challenges of doing business here.
They explained communication with state officials may be difficult to maintain, as they may be focused on dealing with the health and economic damages of the pandemic. Still, they argued much work needs to be done to improve the exchange.
Moreover, only 1 in 10 investors said there is sufficient engagement between the European Union and the Philippine government in a proof of the growing divide between the two parties clashing over human-rights issues.
In September the European Parliament adopted a resolution to withdraw the trade privileges of the Philippines. Aside from the reported killings in the war on drugs, EU legislators raised issue against the nonrenewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise and the cyber libel conviction of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa.
The Philippines is a beneficiary of the EU’s General Scheme of Preferences Plus that allows its exporters to ship at least 6,274 products to Europe at zero tariff rate.
About 25 percent of exports to the EU are covered by the trade incentive. Last year shipments to the economic bloc amounted to $8.28 billion; therefore, some $2.07 billion worth of products benefited from the EU grant.