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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                    21  September 2011

Philippines gets unexpected investment

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President Benigno Aquino III this week received an unexpected $15-million investment pledge in the Philippine coconut industry in the next four years following meetings with business groups, officials said.

A stream of American executives called on Mr. Aquino in his hotel, expressing enthusiasm in his efforts to create a new business environment and offering to expand investments in the country, according to Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang.

Among the callers were representatives of the US giant Pepsi Corporation, the US beverage company Vita Coco and its local affiliate Fiesta Coco Equity, and outsourcing firms Convergys and EXL Services.

Carandang said that the President was in “good spirits” after the beverage company executives told him about the huge global market for coconut water and its touted medicinal values for the health-conscious consumers.

“These companies want to source the demand for coconut water from the Philippines. So this is a big opportunity for our coconut industry and for our farmers,” Carandang said.

PepsiCo did not say how much it plans to invest in the country but it was serious in its plan to expand its coconut harvesting operations, he said.

Vita and Fiesta officials told Mr. Aquino they planned to invest $15 million over the next four years not only to harvest coconut water but also in planting more coconut trees, Carandang said.

“There’s a lot of room to bring rebirth to the industry in general,” Vita CEO Michael Kirben told reporters later.

“We expressed a lot of interest in the planting of coconut trees to revive the coconut industry because we noticed that a lot of the trees are senile,” said Fiesta president Romeo Chan. Jeffrey Fox, president and CEO of Convergys Corp., said that he confirmed to Mr. Aquino his company’s “long-term commitment to invest in the Philippines.”

Bill Bloom, executive vice president of EXL Services, whose clients include Global 1000 companies, said his firm had chosen the Philippines as one of its “model centers.”

“That would include work that is typically provided to physicians, nurses or lawyers or accountants and we’re building models such that we can offer those services to our clients here in the US from our centers in the Philippines,” Bloom said.



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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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