EU bringing big business mission to PH

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European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen: As economy grows, there's need to ensure level playing field. Philstar file photo

MANILA – Some 40 companies from the European Union (EU) are set to visit the Philippines in the third quarter of the year, Walter van Hattum, head of EU Delegation to the Philippines Economic and Trade Section said on Tuesday.

“We have a big one coming. We are planning on the healthcare sector towards August or September. Some 40 companies from the EU will be coming to the Philippines,” van Hattum told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The EU trade official said European companies would like to take the opportunities in the Philippines with the growing demand in the healthcare sector.

“We’re looking at especially medical devices,” said van Hattum.

The 2017 Advocacy Paper of the EU-Philippines Business Network (EPBN) had cited the healthcare industry as a high priority sector.

It was noted that the country was largely dependent on imports for its medical supplies, importing 100 percent of medical equipment and 65 percent of medical disposables.

The local production of medical equipment here is limited to prototypes unit, spare parts and disposables such as gloves and syringes.

“As you can imagine, Europe has lot to offer in terms of technology,” van Hattum said.

On another note, the EPBN advocacy paper said health-related firms from EU could support the Duterte administration’s goals to develop health infrastructure, implement immunization programs, and provide quality innovative medicine through public-private partnership (PPP) model.

EU also sees potential in the Philippine healthcare sector as the government strengthens its health expenditure.

It was noted that in 2014, the country’s spending on health only reached 4.7 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), which was below the 5 percent of GDP recommended by the World Health Organization.

The administration allocated over P107 billion as health budget under the 2018 General Appropriations Act.

Meanwhile, EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen also told the PNA that the EU wanted to see more exchanges of visit between the two parties to further strengthen trade and investment ties among European and Filipino companies.

A Philippine business delegation is visiting Hungary this week to promote manufacturing sub-sectors of machineries, medical devices, automotive parts, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, food and agri-business, infrastructure, and shared service.