The GPCCI: Bridging Continents and Exploring Opportunities
Bridging Germany and the Philippines, the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI) champions economic and cultural ties. Founded in 2008, they help German businesses flourish in the Philippines through matchmaking, market insights, and business development support. From trade deals to cultural events, the GPCCI fosters collaboration and understanding, building a vibrant bridge between these two dynamic nations. With that in mind, why don’t you join us in learning more about The German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry with its Deputy Executive Director and Head of Trade and Promotion, Charlotte Bandelow.
What is the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce (GPCCI) and what does it offer? How does it stand out from the other Chambers in the country?
My name is Charlotte Bandelow and I'm the Deputy Executive Director of the German Philippine Chamber of Commerce. We call it GPCCI for short. This is how we are more known in the Philippines. GPCCI is still a relatively new organization. Back then, we were only composed of 4 employees. Today, we are at 21 employees. For 7 years now, I've been the Deputy Executive Director. But my day-to-day business is heading or managing the trade and promotion activities of our Chamber. The trade promotion department is the market entry consultancy or the service provider in our organization. We usually support German businesses entering the Philippine market through market checks, promotion events, and endorsements. However, our specialty is on business matchings. We aim to find Philippine partners who are open to cooperating with German companies. It is also important to mention that our customers are not only German firms, but also government agencies in Germany that are focusing on export promotion supporting SMEs in their market access abroad.
GPCCI belongs to a network of German Chambers Abroad. There are 150 Chambers in 92 countries and they all have a similar set up. We have quite a strong network.
What are the key sectors you see driving future growth in German-Philippine trade and investment?
Overall, it's fostering bilateral trade and providing a platform representing German business interests. We have these three pillars for this. First is the official representation of German business interests. We do this with advocacy work, events and inquiry management. Second, we have the membership organization - the heart of our chamber that initiated our organization. We’re celebrating our 15th anniversary. Today, we have around 300 members. We have a very broad portfolio represented in our membership and some working committees. For instance, we have a maritime committee since a lot of our firms are in the maritime sector and we join forces with other foreign chambers. We also have a vocational training and an advocacy committee.
Our members’ industries range from energy, logistics, health, to manufacturing among many others. Lastly, the third pillar, is the service provider. We offer a lot of services from market entry consultancy to training solutions. We host several business missions in a year to foster market entry. And in training for example, we are promoting the German apprenticeship system wherein dual training entails collaboration between a company and a training institution. It’s a very industry-driven approach. This is something we are also trying to promote and bring to the Philippines through different projects.
Could you provide some success stories about German companies thriving in the Philippines with the help of the GPCCI?
From my observations, it's often quite challenging to enter the Philippine market for different reasons. However, once companies are in, I feel that they are quite happy with doing business here and the market opportunities available in the country. We know this because we do a bi-annual survey globally. Through this, we are able to compare the sentiments of the business climate in our community to, for example, other ASEAN countries or globally with the other German Chambers. We see that the outlook is usually very optimistic in the Philippines.
Some company success stories are the biggest investors we have, namely: Lufthansa Technik Philippines, MRO for aircrafts, Continental from the automotive industry and Zama, a carburetor manufacturer. Zama belongs to the famous STIHL group in Germany and is one of the German export champions.
Zama just had a groundbreaking announcement for this January since they will be putting up another factory in the back of their current location. They are planning to manufacture textiles and cables. Once located here, firms are usually happy about the conditions and then eventually decide to invest and expand further.
Can you share your vision for the GPCCI in the next five years? How will you continue to strengthen the relationship between German and Philippine businesses?
Our vision is to enhance and strengthen the trade and investment relations between the Philippines and Germany, remaining at the forefront of the companies involved in these trade-relations and help them improve. There are several aspects we push for to support this:
We hope for a free trade agreement between the Philippines and the European Union as this could enhance the trade even more.
With regard to the ease of doing business, we have signed an MOU with the Anti-Red-Tape Authority. We want to champion and help our German-Philippine companies to manage or deal with the bureaucracies and the policy framework smoothly.
To strengthen business relations, there are still a lot of things to do, especially since I feel that the Philippines is also not that known yet to German firms. I think we have to do more promotional work about the Philippine business opportunities in Germany.
There are wonderful Philippine success stories to share to German companies abroad. Also, the government’s ongoing reform agenda is something we appreciate and recognize. One example is the renewable energy sector. This was just recently opened for 100% foreign ownership. This is one sector where German technology can contribute a lot. We saw this in the headlines already that wind energy projects are in the pipeline by German companies. This is really great news and this will also help the Philippines in solving the energy issue.
What we also bank on is the sustainability topic. We see a lot of German firms that provide environmental technologies and solutions. This could be in many kinds of sectors: in water and waste management, recycling, energy, manufacturing sector and the like. German firms can contribute a lot.
Then of course, the Philippines has such a valuable human capital: English-speaking, young, dynamic, and digitized among many others. This is something that makes the country really attractive. For German firms, this goes two ways. As we already see, firms are outsourcing certain aspects of their business to the Philippines. At the same time, they are also trying to get skilled people to go to Germany. We see this in the healthcare industry for example.
Charlotte Bandelow is the Deputy Executive Director and Head of Trade and Promotion of the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Charlotte provides the company with leadership, vision, strategic planning, and relationship-building among many others. She is an important figure in enabling the GPCCI to realize its functions and goals. As seen in Charlotte, she is passionate about bridging businesses and business interests between Germany and the Philippines. Through this, she hopes to give both countries inevitable growth and improvement.
Visit www.techshake.asia if you would like to know and connect more with the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.