A growing economy abetted by political stability, a rising stock market and rapidly developing infrastructure have led to a dramatic increase in Southeast U.S. executives’ visits to the Philippines, Honorary Consul General Ray Donato told GlobalFax last week.  Mr. Donato said that 520 visas, some 70% linked to business purposes, were issued in 1996 versus 180 visas, with only 40% linked to business, in 1995.

      And he added that the pace is faster than ever so far this year.

      According to Mr. Donato, Southeast companies in telecommunications (mostly cellular), power plant construction, petrochemical production, agriculture, engineering and real estate have all sought contracts in the Philippines.

      In addition, he said that the growth of the automobile industry in the Philippines will see an increased demand growing from 135,000 vehicles in 1996 to 225,000 by  2000.  GM, Ford and Chrysler are currently seeking locations for assembly plant operations there, and the growth of the auto sector will create opportunities for spare parts suppliers and companies in the plastics and steel industries.

      Tourism is another area which has prompted visits in 1996 by Georgia travel representatives, he added.  More than 2.5 million visitors, both for business and for pleasure, was the highest level in the country’s history.

      He also said that the Philippines, with more than 7,000 islands, is becoming a popular location for shooting motion pictures, and several Georgia filmmakers have visited the country.

      With a slightly less rapidly growing gross national product than some of the neighboring ASEAN countries, he said that the costs of operating a business there in comparison to the others are somewhat lower.  The Philippines experienced 6.1% GDP growth 1996.  A growth rate of 7.8% is projected for 1997.

      Companies interested in the Philippines may contact Mr. Donato at (404) 239-5740.

by Mark Pierson