Written by Catherine N. Pillas
NEW Zealand, buoyed by the booming business-process outsourcing (BPO) sector in the Philippines, sees growing interest from its companies to outsource back-office operations in the Philippines.
The trade representative of the island country said relations between New Zealand and the Philippines have shifted from merely offering aid to each other in times of calamities to a more trade-based partnership in recent years.
“Three years ago, we had food-and- beverage companies investing here [Philippines] but in the last two years, we have seen information-technology (IT) companies looking to shift their back-office operations here. This trend is growing,” said Hernando Banal, New Zealand trade commissioner to the Philippines, told reporters on Tuesday.
“The BPO sector has been such a success story for the Philippines. You see New Zealand IT and engineering companies, the small ones, set up back-office operations here in the Philippines so their businesses [in New Zealand] can grow and, at the same time, provide employment to Filipinos, so that’s very positive,” New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines Reuben Levermore said.
Levermore added that New Zealand’s expertise in technology and innovation, paired with that of the Philippines, is one way of strengthening partnership between the two countries.
“New Zealanders have a knack for innovation, but they don’t have the scale to mass produce certain technology. The design and content can be done in New Zealand, while the actual production and testing can be done in the Philippines,” Banal said.
Further, the New Zealand ambassador added that the nature of relations between the two countries has changed, as Southeast Asian economies over the recent years have shown remarkable growth.
“The nature of our relationship has become so much broader. We still have an aid relationship but as Asian economies grow, now it has become more on trade,” Levermore said.
Data gathered by New Zealand’s statistics authority show that the Philippines is the 22nd-largest trading partner of that country, with total trade in 2013 amounting to NZ$897 million.
The Phillippines ranking as the 22nd-largest trading partner of New Zealand places it behind Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, which are all on the top 20 list of New Zealand’s trading partners.
The Philippines has a trade deficit with New Zealand of NZ$612 million as of 2013, as its exports to the island country were valued at NZ$142 million but total imports are at NZ$754 million.
New Zealand’s main export to the Philippines remains to be food and beverage, growing annually at 11.3 percent.
Banal said 80 percent of New Zealand’s exports to the Philippines are food-and-beverage products.