The FINANCIAL -- The Philippines is interested in producing mass products in Georgia such as soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and personal care items, which will be exported to neighbouring countries as well as to Europe, according to the Honorary Consul of Georgia in the Philippines Thelmo Luis O. Cunanan Jr. Foreign countries may be interested to use the benefits of the trade liberalization agreement with the EU, officials at the Georgian Ministry of Economy believe.
“Because Georgia has the most preferable tariff liberalization conditions worldwide, it will encourage foreign investors to invest and produce in Georgia,” said Mikheil Janelidze, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Economy. “This will not only increase the export volume, but also diversify it. Local entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to expand their enterprises and production. On the other hand, Georgia might be used by the foreign companies as a place where they will produce within the framework of the EU market. Not only our neighbouring countries, but also those ones who do not use all the benefits of the DCFTA trade agreement with the EU, will become interested in establishing enterprises in Georgia. Asian countries will be happy to open enterprises here because they will be closer to the EU. Market proximity and easy delivery capabilities are very important in today’s trade. Even EU member countries will be willing to come to Georgia as there are low taxes and a cheap labour force here,” Janelidze said.
“First, we want to start with trading, to test the market. If the market is good and the volume of goods is high, then maybe the Philippines will start manufacturing here,” Thelmo Luis O. Cunanan Jr. told The FINANCIAL. “Several major Philippine companies already have manufacturing facilities in Africa and in China. Now they are looking at the Caucasus, specifically at Georgia because of its ideal location. The country is very central. Through factories in Georgia, businessmen will be able to export their products to neighbouring countries as well as to Europe. Georgia is naturally placed as a hub, which Philippine companies may use to export to Europe, which would be perfect,” he added.
“It is useless if you bring an investor here, set up a factory, and produce things that people will not buy. There is definitely interest from the Philippines in Georgia in the field of manufacturing. Not too long ago, I brought my business partners from the Production and Operations Management Association of the Philippines (PROMAP) to Georgia and we noticed that there is hardly any manufacturing here, especially for fast-moving consumer goods, like soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and personal care items. It is all imported from abroad. But it is possible to produce these things in Georgia. Our companies have vast experience in this regard as we have a huge population of 100 million people and a mass market for inexpensive products, which are perfect for people with small incomes,” he added.
The Filipino businessmen’s activities will start in Georgia through the cooperation agreement which has recently been signed between the self-governing city of Rustavi and the Philippine cities of Santiago and Cauayan. “We admire Rustavi as it is a forward-looking city. It is a very tolerant, multi-ethnic metropolis with tremendous potential as a logistics hub and manufacturing base. Its leadership is very progressive and open to partnering with friends from many kilometers away,” he said.
“This is the first agreement between Georgian and Philippine cities and the first such agreement of Georgia with Southeast Asia and it will cover cooperation in science and technology, culture and arts, tourism, environmental protection, urban planning, education, and public health among others. Part of the city agreement will cover the exchanges in trade and commerce. When the Philippine delegation comes here in November, they will bring businessmen with them. When the Georgian delegation visits the Philippines I hope that they will bring Georgian businessmen as well. At the moment trade is very small between Georgia and the Philippines but we are working very hard to improve this,” said Consul Cunanan. “I am also trying to bring Georgian wine to the Philippines. Maybe we will bring some Philippine wine merchants here so that they can learn about Georgian wine and promote these in the Philippines,” he added.
Consul Cunanan believes that cooperation between Georgia and the Philippines will be beneficial for both countries. “We are working on the possible cooperation between the Ministry of Environment and the Agency for Protected Areas and the same agency in the Philippines. Under this agreement both sides will exchange ideas and practices about how to manage the environment, how to manage the national parks, and eco-tourism. We are also very aggressive in promoting Georgian culture and I am working closely with the Georgian National Tourism Administration, Georgian National Film Center, and the National Museum of Georgia.”
The relations between Georgia and the Philippines started years ago. In 2003, the Philippines – Georgia Business and Friendship Association, which Consul Cunanan founded, started working on bringing Georgian and Philippine businessmen together and promoting socio-cultural exchanges between the two countries.