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Most Swedish firms in PHL planning for long-term expansion

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A SURVEY of Swedish businesses in the Philippines has revealed that most of them are here for the long term and plan to expand accordingly, the Swedish government said.

The “Philippines — Open for Business” report published April 3 by Business Sweden, the trade and investment council of the Swedish Government, said it surveyed 13 firms present in the Philippines and 92% said they are planning for “long-term business expansion.”

“Results show that overall, businesses remain positive about their prospects in the Philippines. A majority of the respondents are opting to stay invested, and even plan to expand operations in the country in the long term,” according to the report.

Near term, 70% of respondents also forecast solid growth, with expectations of 10% growth in sales annually over the next three years.

However, the report noted “cautious optimism” among Swedish businesses in the Philippines.

“For one, respondents cited bureaucracy and regulatory changes as a potential source of risks,” the report read.

Also, four out of 13 said they expect economic conditions in the Philippines “to either stay the same or even decline.”

For day-to-day operations, dealing with government permits (69%) was identified as the biggest hurdle, followed by infrastructure constraints (54%) and sector-specific policies (34%).

Nevertheless, a majority still expect economic improvements, citing an ”average” level of confidence in the government’s infrastructure program.

“From the survey, what we see driving Swedish business in the Philippines is that most firms are able to support their clients by providing innovative solutions needed for the present and the future,” it said.

“Consequently, Swedish companies feel that they take a more active role in shaping industry trends. Having a shaping role in the sectors that they operate in supports the view that Swedish companies have a long-term positive outlook for the Philippine market,” it added.

Besides the opportunities for Swedish suppliers that can offer equipment, solutions and services for critical applications in infrastructure push, it also identified sectors where Swedish firms are a potential fit: manufacturing; information technology and business process management; as well as retail and e-commerce.

Currently, there are around 30 Swedish firms operating in the Philippines. Of these, 20 are considered large, with combined Philippine revenue of 5 billion krona or P28.06 billion.

Swedish exports to the Philippines in 2018 also grew 30% year-on-year to 2 billion krona or P11.23 billion. — Janina C. Lim

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