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18 US firms to explore investments in Mindanao

BusinessWeek Mindanao
Nelson V. Constantino and
Joe Del Puerto Felicida
September 13, 2010

AT least 18 US firms have signified their intention to send their delegations to the upcoming “Orobest Expo 2010,” an event that will be held parallel to the 19th Mindanao Business Conference (Minbizcon) and the Mindanao Investment Forum on Sept. 16-19 in Cagayan de Oro City.

Jaime Rafael U. Paguio, president of the host Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Incorporated (ORO CHAMBER), said the Americans are bringing along with them their top products and technologies for display during the OTOP Mindanao Island Fair and Orobest Expo 2010 inside the Limketkai Atrium.

“The presence of American businesses and displays in the Atrium would already manifest that indeed US is coming back to pour in more investments to Mindanao,” Paguio said.

US ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas will be the keynote speaker at the opening of the fair.

For his part, Conference Director Ruben Vegafria hopes the Minbizcon will open the eyes of American investors on Mindanao even as he expects the existing American firms in the region to tell their counterparts that Mindanao is definitely a good place for business.

“The first Orobest last year was partnered by US Commercial Service, proving the American’s renewed interest in Mindanao after having been told by us not to leave Mindanao as an investment destination,” Vegafria said.

Several American firms are already doing good business in Mindanao. For this, it could be better if more of their counterparts would be enticed to come to Mindanao not only for a look-see, but also to show their products.

The move of further drawing American investments to Mindanao is expected to cast opposition, particularly from so-called anti-American groups. However, Paguio pointed out whatever investment that is not detrimental to Mindanao is good for Mindanao.

“We only welcome to Mindanao those foreign companies that would take a very close look and respect our laws and our environment,” Paguio stated.

He was confident, such foreign firms would not only generate jobs, but would also give Mindanao a good face to the entire world that this is a place where business thrives.

Paguio asked the oppositors to show basis, saying without such basis, he would think “we should also look at what new investments could offer for the common good of the people of Mindanao.”

Aside from luring some one billion peso new investments to Mindanao, Minbizcon intends to come up with position papers on various concerns that the government is expected to address.

According to Paguio, some of these concerns were already taken up in various round-table discussions.

“At the end of the conference, we will have set a set of resolutions that we will hand over to the President for him to look into. That could be one of the most significant outputs of the conference, he said.

Vegafria said business students are also invited to the conference for them to be able to know the prevailing business climate here in Mindanao, and what the business sector and the government are doing.

Meanwhile, Oro Chamber Vice President for Manufacturing Ghaye Alegrio said this year’s Minbizcon is adopting a very different approach of not only presenting to the government the call-to-action.

“Now, we are getting the commitment of the groups. For instance in power, we have the power stakeholders to advocate for government actions on such particular concern,” she said.

This, she added, ensures that proper advocacy is carried out in getting the attention and action of government.

Meanwhile, over one hundred micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMES from the different regions of Mindanao are coming to Cagayan de Oro City to showcase their best products.

The Department of Trade and Industry Region 10 (DTI), together with Oro Chamber will host the Otop Mindanao Island Fair 2010 (OMIF 2010) and the Oro Best Expo 2010 at The Atrium, Limketkai Center.

DTI-10 Regional Director Alicia V. Euseña said that with this year’s theme of “Showcasing the Best of Mindanao”, the OMIF 2010 will feature products and services of One Town One Product (OTOP) Program from the Regions 9, 10, 11, 12 CARAGA, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). These products include fashion accessories, fresh and processed food, gifts and housewares, furniture, organic and natural products, HALAL and other MSME products.

This is the second time that Cagayan de Oro City will play host the OTOP Mindanao Island Fair. The first one was in August 2008 at the same venue which generated sales of P33 Million.

New OTOP products will be launched during the OMIF 2010 which is expected to attract more local and institutional buyers. The event will also feature the “Semi-Processed Materials Expo 2010” organized by the Bureau of Domestic Trade, the Designers’ Productivity Build-up prototypes, buying mission and the special setting showcase for the Mindanao regions.