BCCP: Strengthening Ties with the Philippines and the United Kingdom
The British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (BCCP) is an independent, non-profit membership organization that serves as a platform for British and Philippine businesses to collaborate and connect. Its primary objective is to promote trade and investment between the UK and the Philippines, and to provide members with opportunities for networking, conferences, and business development.
The Chamber was established in 1997. It has a diverse membership base that includes both British and Philippine companies, as well as individuals and organizations that are interested in promoting bilateral trade and investment between the UK and the Philippines. Some of the chamber's key activities include organizing business events, seminars, and networking opportunities, as well as providing business support services and advocacy work. With that, why don’t you join me in learning more about the BCCP with its Executive Director, Mr. Chris Nelson.
What led you to the British Chamber of Commerce in Manila?
My friend was the Chairman of the Chamber before, his name was Roger Lamb. He asked me to join the British Chamber of Commerce. I was semi-retired and was involved in other Chambers before. I took my friend’s offer and in early 2015, the general manager of the Chamber resigned. They decided not to replace him and the Chamber requested for me to manage it on a consultancy basis. I’ve been doing this for the last 9 years. That’s how it started and it grew from there.
What made you passionate about being the Executive Director of the BCCP?
Honestly speaking, I am not sure if I am passionate about being the Executive Director. However, I am incredibly committed to this job. When you join something, you would want to develop and grow. I think that it’s important to be committed to allow the Chamber to grow to a level that it has yet to achieve. This can be measured through membership, awareness, recognition, and impact on issues. I do have a passion for the Chamber and achieving for the Chamber.
Can you tell us about the chamber's goals and objectives in the Philippines?
First of all, the Chamber is a non-stock and non-profit organization. Its principal role is to support its 300+ members. Second, it is also the leading voice for British businesses in the Philippines. We represent British businesses in key economic issues relating to the Philippines. For example, in the latter part of the Duterte administration, we advocated strongly for the passage of key economic bills, retail trading, and foreign investment acts. We have continued our efforts in this context to the next administration. We encourage and reach out to companies to empower them to invest in Philippine businesses. We do this in conjunction with the British and Philippine embassies.
In summary, we have 3 key roles: to cater to our members, to advocate for key issues that affect businesses and in effect our members, and to attract new British businesses to invest in the Philippines.
How does the chamber support British businesses operating in the Philippines and vice versa?
Most of the time it will depend on specific requests to see if we could assist the company. For instance, one time, one of our members was a company that supplies crew members to shipping companies. They had a specific issue that needed to be resolved. The BCCP helped resolve this issue by giving assistance. In terms of other companies, what we try to do as well is to give a reason to come to the Philippines. We also have a service that introduces companies to allow a partnership to form. We communicate with our members regularly and share our current plans and advocacies, which encourages them to keep coming back to the BCCP and the Philippines.
Can you share some success stories of British businesses that have established a presence in the Philippines with the help of the chamber?
For now, I’ll share one company. We are currently working with a British trade company called the Agricultural Horticultural Development Board (AHDB). Their role is to help promote beef and pork. They work with all suppliers in the United Kingdom (UK). There has been a significant growth of UK pork exports to the Philippines. For context, last year, they shipped a total of 34,000 tons which was a 34% increase in the previous year. Our role through AHDB is to highlight opportunities to come to the Philippines. We engage with the government to continue to keep tariffs low.
Looking ahead, how do you foresee the future of UK-Philippines trade and investment, and how will the chamber play a role in shaping this future?
I am very positive and optimistic. This year is the 77th year of UK-Philippine diplomatic relations. The Philippines is a key country in Southeast Asia. Our relationship is very strong with the Philippines. One of our aims is to encourage UK companies to invest in the Philippines. The current administration has extended lower tariffs till the end of the year which was one of our goals. Another one would be to see the liberalization and digitalization of the Philippine economy. This will allow UK investments to flow into the country, effectively boosting the economy and providing a business opportunity for UK businesses. However, we do have to keep in mind that the Philippines does not operate in isolation and is surrounded by other countries which seem promising to investors.
Mr. Chris Nelson is the Executive Director of the British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines. He has extensive experience in the fields of strategic development, governance, risk management and relationship-building. Chris also has a History degree from the University of Cambridge. The BCCP’s mission is to help British and Philippine businesses to network connect with one another thereby fostering trade, development, and economic growth between the two ecosystems. It has played a key role in maintaining the UK-Philippine relationship for 77 years. As the Executive Director, Chris is committed to maintaining and further fostering trade and investment between the United Kingdom and the Philippines
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