MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines failed to attract more foreign investors in the first quarter amid the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, resulting in mobility restrictions in the country.
The latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that foreign companies have yet to pour in much-needed capital to revive the economy, as only investments by Filipino nationals have shown improvement.
Foreign investment approved in the first quarter fell to 8.98 billion pesos, down 54% from the 2021 level of 19.55 billion pesos.
The Philippines grappled with the Omicron wave in January, resulting in a record number of daily cases.
This has led to the return of mobility restrictions in Metro Manila and many other areas.
However, total investment by foreign and Filipino investors increased by 15.6% to reach 190.6 billion pesos. Nearly 95% of this sum came from local investors.
Foreign investment commitments have been filed with the Board of Investments, BOI-Bangsamoro, Clark Development Corp., Philippine Economic Zone Authority, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan and Cagayan Economic Zone Authority.
Of the country’s 17 regions, only six have received foreign investment.
Calabarzon received the largest share of foreign investment with 4.87 billion pesos in the first three months. Some 1.66 billion pesos went to the Cagayan Valley while the Central Visayas got 987 million pesos.
The other three regions include Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Davao Region.
Of the investment promotion agencies, almost 50% each was done with PEZA (P4.47 billion) and BOI (P4.33 billion).
Among industries, manufacturing got the highest share at 57% with foreign investment worth 5.15 billion pesos.
The supply of electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning comes second with 1.66 billion pesos of investments.
Administrative and support services activities ranked third with P977 million in investment commitments.
No foreign investment has been made in water supply, sanitation and waste management, accommodation and catering activities, public administration and defence, human health and social activities, arts and entertainment.
According to the PSA, investment commitments were mainly driven by Japanese projects, which accounted for 40% of the total, followed by South Korea, which accounted for 18.5%, and companies in Singapore, which held a share of 18.2%.
Japanese companies committed investments totaling 3.56 billion pesos, while those in South Korea pledged 1.66 billion pesos. Those in Singapore, meanwhile, pledged a total of 1.63 billion pesos.
Investments approved by foreign and Filipino nationals in the first quarter created 14,416 jobs, down 39% from the 23,462 jobs created in 2021.
Of these, nearly 70% will be absorbed by projects of foreign interest.