Mindanao biz leaders eye more exports after Duterte’s Japan visit: urge Japanese investors to invest in Marawi

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 Oct) — Business leaders from Mindanao are hoping the working visit of President Rodrigo Duterte in Japan on October 29 to 31 will open up more opportunities for Mindanawon exporters and encourage Japanese businessmen to invest in Marawi City.

Duterte is set to leave this city for Japan on Sunday evening, along with his economic team, and will return home on Tuesday. This is his second visit in Japan since October 2016.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Japan Prime Minister Shinzō Abe share a light moment during the declaration of joint statement following the expanded bilateral meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Japan on October 26, 2016. REY BANIQUET/Presidential Photo

Vicente Lao, chair of the Mindanao Business Council (MBC) , told MindaNews he hopes Duterte’s visit will improve connectivity between Japan and Mindanao to boost trading between Japanese buyers and Mindanawon exporters.

“We hope there will be more direct flights from Mindanao to Japan so we will be able to open up our agriculture products to the Japanese market,” he said.

In a press briefing at Malacañan Palace on October 26, Robespierre Bolivar, spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said Duterte will meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss “matters of mutual interest to both countries” including “political, economic, socio-cultural and people-to-people fronts.”

“And we are committed to further strengthening our cooperation on this many areas in the bilateral, regional and UN levels,” he said.

He said the President is also scheduled to “meet other high ranking Japanese government officials and influential captains of industry.”

Joining the Philippine delegation, Bolivar said, are Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Trade secretary Ramon Lopez, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and other members of Duterte’s economic team “to reinforce the Japan-Philippines economic partnership.”

Ronald Go, president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII) said he wishes Duterte will draw Japanese investors to “Marawi, Davao and the rest of Mindanao.”

He noted Japan has been a strong trading partner of the Philippines and is a “leading investor” in the country.

“As we have seen in the past, the President has been  successful at opening new markets for our country. We wish the President well on this trip and hope he is able to bring in more investments from Japan especially for Marawi, Davao and the rest of Mindanao,” he said.

After nearly five months of fighting between government troops and Islamic State-inspired Maute Group, Duterte declared last October 17 the liberation of Marawi City from the influence of the terrorist group, following the death of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, considered as the emir of ISIS in Southeast Asia, and Omar Maute.

Prime Minister Abe, along with his wife Akie, visited Duterte’s hometown Davao on January 13, 2017 and even had breakfast in Duterte’s modest house.

Bolivar said the prime minister is set to make his second visit to the Philippines to attend the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) from November 12 to 14, 2017.

The Philippines is the chair of the 50th ASEAN this year. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)