HELPING leading German companies that are doing business in the Philippines to promote and work on expanding their ventures in the country has always been a breeze for Dr. Bodo Goerlich, president of the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI), since he has enjoyed his stay here for the past five years.
While most expats would rather escape the horrible traffic in Metro Manila brought about by the Christmas-shopping rush, Goerlich organized a Nikolaus Party last Friday to celebrate a fruitful and successful year for members of the chamber and friends from the diplomatic corps. He welcomed the chamber’s 40 new members with a hearty “ho ho ho,” as the evening started.
More German firms coming to PHL
THE GPCCI president says their group’s increasing membership reflects the strong interest of German companies to invest in the Philippines. He said the chamber has always been a critical partner in the growth of many German companies expanding their investments and operations in the Philippines. These include new ventures of leading German firms, such as Deutsche Bank AG, Bayer and Bosch, in the higher level of services in business-process outsourcing in the Philippines.
He said the Philippines is a good investment site for manufacturing, because of the presence of suitable production sites, comparably low labor cost, and the highly educated and competitive Filipino work force who speaks good English.
He added that German companies also see high potential for manufacturing higher quality of products in the country, which are usually done only in Germany. He said there are now items defined to improve safety in German automobiles that are being produced in the Philippines.
Implementation of dual-training system
GOERLICH said next year would be an exciting year for German companies with the implementation of the dual-training system by German companies, in cooperation with the Philippine government. He said this system will equip Filipino students with the right skills needed by many German companies and their counterparts in the Philippines.
The dual-training system helps address lingering problem of mismatch between the skills needed by German companies and the training of the Filipino work force.
He sees a successful implementation of the dual-training system in the Philippines, since the Filipino work force is considered to be well-educated, fast learners who have excellent competency in the English language.
He said the chamber is hosting a delegation of general managers in Manila from top German companies in Southeast Asia by the end of January 2015 to help them explore business and investment opportunities in the Philippines.
Improving relations with German businesses
THE GPCCI president said the state visit of President Aquino in Berlin in October sent a strong signal of efforts to improve diplomatic ties between Germany and the Philippines. He noted that the visit was the first in 20 years made by a Philippine head of state since the term of then-President Fidel Ramos.
Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Germany have been strained with the failed investment of German firm Fraport AG in building the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.
“The state visit of President Aquino was a very good sign [of renewed commitments to improve ties],” he said.
He added that many German companies look at political developments in the country as major factors in considering investments in a country.
“The state visit [of President Aquino] signaled closer relation between the politics of both countries, and German companies follow politics,” he explained.
He said that while the arbitration case between Fraport AG and the Philippine government is still pending in a court in Singapore, the diplomatic relations of the two countries are beginning to be patched up.
“It’s not yet solved, but it’s on its way of being solved,” he said.
Like working with family
GOERLICH, who is on his second year of leadership in the GPCCI, said he enjoys his stay in the Philippines and believes many German businessmen will also love venturing into the country, not just for business, but also on the personal level.
He loves traveling to many of the country’s different island-destinations during the holidays, and often spends his weekend playing golf with some of his expat friends.
The charming German businessman arrived in the Philippines in 2009 to serve as president and CEO of the German mining firm Steag State Power (SPI). SPI employs 200 Filipinos in two of its locations in Manila and Mindanao, where the company operates two 10-megawatt coal-fired power station in Misamis Oriental.
Goerlich holds doctorate in Engineering, after taking his bachelor degree in Mining Engineering, both obtained from RWTH Aachen University in Germany.
Prior to his stint in the Philippines, he has visited the country twice as a tourist.
He said living here made all the difference for him: “Living here is different. I love the smile, even more so because we Germans are not really famous for smiling. Working in a Philippine company is like working in a family with trust, responsibility and a lot of fun.”