Japan Tobacco keen on expanding presence, eyes PH as ASEAN hub – Dominguez

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Women holding parasols walk past a logo of Japan Tobacco Inc (JT) outside the company's headquarters building in Tokyo, Japan, May 18, 2016. REUTERS FILE

MANILA – Japan Tobacco Inc. (JT Group), which recently bought homegrown Mighty Corp. and allowed the latter to pay a P30-billion tax liability to the Philippine government, is keen on expanding its business in the country, according to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

With a total P46.8-billion investment, JTI has signalled its commitment to help grow the Philippine economy and support the Department of Finance’s tax collection program, Dominguez said in a text message to reporters. He is among Cabinet secretaries accompanying President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on a three-day trip to Japan which ends Tuesday.

On the sidelines of Duterte’s Tokyo trip, Dominguez said he and JT Group President and CEO Mitsuomi Koizumi signed a letter of intent embodying the Japanese firm’s support for the Philippines’ economic growth.

“JT Group enthusiastically supports the DOF in its tax collection effectiveness program and enthusiastically supports the realization of DOF goals to enhance the Philippines’ revenue base to bring about inclusive growth,” JTI said in the LOI.

According to JTI, its investment of P46.8 billion is part of the company’s desire to expand its business presence in the Philippines, which it is eyeing to be a regional hub for its products in a bid to boost distribution within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The JT Group bought Mighty Corporation in August, helping the local tobacco giant pay the government P30 billion for a tax liability.

With the buyout, Japan’s biggest cigarette manufacturer now has a share of over 25% of the Philippine tobacco market.

Meanwhile, Dominguez said that besides the JTI investment, the economic managers are looking at $1.3 billion in investments entering the country as a result of an agreement signed between the Philippines’ Energy Development Corporation and a consortium of foreign investors from Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets and Arran Investment Pte. Ltd.