ML lifting, proper Marawi rehab essential to convince investors – EU business groups

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The landscape of war-shattered Marawi City. (Reuters) REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

MANILA, Philippines — European business leaders in the country hailed President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of Marawi City’s liberation following the deaths of extremist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute but stressed there remain conditions to be met before investors are convinced to come in.

“We said we will bring investors there but we need to make sure that the peace and order situation is clear, which now has been done, so yes, we go back and start discussions with MinDA (Mindanao Development Authority) on how we could help and how we should be coming in and what we can do in order to make sure Mindanao gets due business that should have been there a long time,” Guenter Taus, president of the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, said.

Joona Selin, executive director of the Nordic Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, called Mindanao “an investment or business opportunity that we haven’t really tapped into yet, so when it comes to the stability of the region and peace in any region we would invest in, that’s always good if we have that.”

But before any investments come in, martial law, which Duterte declared over the whole of Mindanao on May 23, the same day fighting broke out in Marawi, should first be lifted.

“I would assume that the President said initially … the moment the situation is clear he will lift (martial law), so I would assume it would be the next logical  step to lift martial law, paving the way for businesses to come in,” Taus said.

“The confidence level is here and as soon as martial is lifted we should be green and go for trying to help business be established in Mindanao,” the ECCP president added.

Most investors will likely consider agro-industry, said Selin, “creating investments wherein we could increase production capacity, bring in technology joint ventures with Philippine counterparts to be able to cater (not only) to the needs of the Philippines market but also (the) export market.”

The European business leaders also said while the private sector can assist in the rehabilitation of Marawi, the job of doing so falls squarely on government’s shoulders.

They stressed that careful planning and the setting up of much-needed infrastructure in Marawi could still spell the difference between investors flocking to the region or staying on the sidelines yet again.