Friday, 14 January 2011

Cebu Pacific allots $1 billion for 4-year expansion program

Business Mirror

CEBU Pacific is spending over $1 billion until 2015 to expand its operations.
It said in a statement yesterday the investment will be spent on 19 brand-new Airbus aircraft for international and domestic network expansion. This, it added, will require the hiring of 2,000 more employees. 

“Cebu Pacific has already created over 4,300 jobs. We have also revived local tourism and have helped generate jobs and opportunities in the provinces,” said president Lance Gokongwei. 

Cebu Pacific took delivery of 3 Airbus 320s in the past three months, will take delivery of five more this year, and will get an additional 16 from 2012 to 2014. 

By the end of 2011, the company will be operating a fleet of 37 aircraft—with an average age of less than 2.5 years.

The airline will also spend P300 million this year to promote the Philippines overseas.

Gokongwei added: “Cebu Pacific’s main focus in the next few years will be in rapidly growing our international presence, particularly in creating better linkages between the fast-growing North Asian markets of South Korea, Japan and Greater China, and the various resorts and tourist destinations here in the Philippines. This is especially true since the Philippines is the closest tropical destination to our North Asian neighbors.”

Last year, Cebu Pacific flew 10.5 million passengers. This year, it expects that figure to go up to 12 million, of which 10 million would be using the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminal 3 (T3), nearing the terminal’s rated capacity of 13 million.

At the rate the airline is growing, Gokongwei said Cebu Pacific’s next 50-millionth passenger is due in four years’ time. The first 50-millionth passenger was awarded last month with one-year unlimited travel to all Cebu Pacific destinations.

Gokongwei said the company’s transfer to Naia T3 in 2008 provided the space, convenience and opportunity for Cebu Pacific to grow and serve its passengers.  

“We look forward to working with the government in continuing to grow within and improving upon Naia T3, the only airport terminal that can accommodate Cebu Pacific’s rapid expansion,” he said.

Cebu Pacific, now the country’s largest airline and Asia’s third-largest low-cost carrier, flies over 260 flights daily to 16 international destinations and 33 domestic destinations from its four operational hubs in Manila, Cebu, Clark and Davao.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Philippines in a boom cycle

John Mangun
Outside the Box
Business Mirror

Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) trading has been very bumpy as 2011 begins. The heavyweight issues on the Phisix index are the ones that are taking most of the selling pressure and if you own these, life has become very disappointing. However, take courage; it could be worse, much worse.

From The Associated Press: “Bangladesh suspended trading at its main stock exchange Monday and security officials used batons to disperse thousands of angry investors upset over a market plunge.

“The benchmark Dhaka Stock Exchange general index rose 80 percent in 2010 but has fallen several times over the last few weeks. It tumbled 7.8 percent Sunday and 9 percent in early trading Monday, prompting an indefinite suspension on trading. After the protesters began gathering Monday morning, authorities used batons to try to keep the demonstrations from spreading. But protesters continued to demonstrate at several busy intersections in Dhaka’s Motijheel commercial district, where the stock exchange is located, smashing vehicles, burning tires and chanting antigovernment slogans.

“A government web site said trading in Dhaka and Chittagong would remain suspended until further notice.”

You see how lucky we are.

The Bangladesh stock market was one of the best performing in the world last year. But it was a false wealth-creation machine because of government policy. I know the complaints about the Philippine government come fast and furious at times. However, the basic free-market policy of this government eliminates false boom-and-bust periods of the business cycle.

Every business owner understands the reality of boom-and-bust periods of the business cycle. For example, say, you own a restaurant. Business grows slowly after you first open until you build a regular customer base.

After some time, you notice that business is starting to fall off. Not as many old customers as before and the few new customers you pick up are not enough to replace your base.

The quality of your service and food is just same, if not better, than when you opened. But people get bored eating at the same restaurant over and over. Now one owner in this situation immediately does a buy-one, take-one promotion and, for the short term, business picks up again. But when the results of that promo slack off, he goes for another price discount. Eventually, the restaurant closes because he is trying to solve systemic problems with short-term solutions.

The wise owner changes the menu, adding new items. Or redecorates to give a new ambiance to his place. Perhaps, this owner even goes so far to change the restaurant theme.

Acknowledging the reality of boom-bust periods, the smart owner adjusts and adapts sort of like knowing that there will be rainy days so you must own an umbrella.

Government “experts” think they can cheat the business cycle by artificial means much like the owner who thinks price reductions solve all business problems.

The Bangladesh stock-market price increase during 2010 was artificial. The government, in an attempt to foolishly fight normal business cycles, hugely inflated the money supply, a large portion of which went into the stock market. Banks were loaned cheap money by the government and encouraged to loan to anyone who wanted to borrow at very low interest rates. With all the newly printed money circulating in the economy, the number of investors in the stock market grew enormously. Everyone was a stock-picking expert. And unlike the PSE, foreigners stay away from this market. Less than 1 percent of the trading is made by foreign money.

Over 3 million Bangladeshis were stock-market investors during the 2010 boom market. By population comparison, Bangladesh had three times as many investors as in the Philippine stock exchange. Also to note, the Philippines per-capita gross domestic product is more than twice that of Bangladesh and per-capita income is 2.5 times as high here. Inflation in Bangladesh averaged 5.4 percent in 2010. Philippine inflation was 3.2 percent in 2010.

So the Bangladesh government does everything it can to boost its stock market during 2010. But reality always catches up with government foolishness. Food prices have gone through the roof recently in South Asia. India has experienced almost a 20-percent increase in food prices over the last three months. On December 19th, the Bangladesh stock market fell 6.7 percent. The government immediately rushed into action allowing banks to loan even more money on stocks, 50 percent more. The market recovered slightly.

2011 comes and the market is hit with a selling wave. Banks are now holding loans that cannot be repaid and are losing value as the collateral, stocks, go down.

Now the government rushes in again, forcing the banks to raise the margin requirements for stock loans and the market falls nearly 15 percent in two days this week. And they close the exchange. But wait. If the exchange is closed, the banks’ loans are worthless because a stock market depends on liquidity. So they reopened the market after the rioting in the streets and prices went up 15 percent yesterday. And we complain about the trading on the PSE?

It seems like the Bangladeshi government imported one of our worst, wild and crazy bus drivers to steer their economic policy.

The ups and downs of the business cycle are normal and necessary. Down periods result from weak businesses being forced to close and from changing consumer habits that business must adjust to. If it were “up” all the time, we would have a litson manok stand and a pearl-shake outlet on every street corner. But that is not economically efficient or effective. Over the years we have seen both of these businesses reduced in the number of players so that these two example businesses can function efficiently and profitably.

The Philippines is in the boom phase of a normal long-term business cycle, and our stock market will respond accordingly, despite any short- term downtrends.

Looking at the PSE as an indicator of the business cycle, we can see the boom started in 2003 and should continue for several years at the least. 2011 is not the end by any means.

E-mail comments to PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by Inc.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

PH football gets $.5m aid

by Peter Atencio
Manila Standard

PHILIPPINE Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta said yesterday the association received an initial $100,000 as financial assistance from Middle Eastern countries in support of the PFF’s plans to develop and organize national competitions within the next five years.

Araneta, who just arrived from the three-day 24th Asian Football Confederation Congress in Doha, Qatar, said the $100,000 is the first in an annual installment of a five-year financial package from the football federations of Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan.

This means that the PFF will receive a 5-year total of $500,000 to organize and promote various national tournaments from the age-group to the senior level until 2015.

“This is a good development for Philippine football. We will have $100,000 yearly for at least five years,” said Araneta during a press conference held at the Manila Yacht Club along Roxas Blvd., Manila.

The financial package from the three oil-rich Middle East countries was facilitated after Araneta met with Olympic Council of Asia president Sheikh Ahmed Al-Sabah, through Philippine Olympic Committee chairman Monico Puentevella, who has been designated as a member of the PFF advisory committee.

The OCA president later introduced Araneta to his brother, Sheikh Talal Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, who turned out to be the president of the Kuwait Football Federation.

Araneta next met with Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim of Bahrain’s football federation and FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein of Jordan.

The new PFF president also said the three countries also offered to shoulder the travel and lodging expenses of the Philippine national team, also known as the Azkals, including their coaches, should they decide to train in their countries.

“We hope that with this offer, we can put up a competitive team which can face any foreign team in the near future,” Araneta said.

Aside from the $500,000 pledged by the three countries for the next five years, the PFF also stands to receive an annual assistance of $250,000 from FIFA itself.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The Year of the Weird

Business Mirror

The year is starting out to be most bizarre.

Ten of thousands of birds have fallen out of the sky, dead before they hit the ground, in places from the US to Sweden. In fact, the first widely covered incident occurred just before New Year’s Day began in the southern part of the US. Thousands of dead fish have been washing up on beaches around the world from New Zealand to Brazil.

However, the strangest event so far in 2011 may be the recent employment/unemployment numbers in the US.

According the US government, 103,000 new jobs were created in December. While that was below the experts’ prediction of around 200,000, at least 100,000 people found jobs. But where it gets weird is that the number of people now on unemployment dropped by some 500,000. If only 100,000 jobs were created, then theoretically unemployment should have dropped by an equal amount. In other words, 400,000 people just disappeared from the job market.

Well, they didn’t actually disappear; they just quit looking for a job.

The local stock market has been battered since January 1, now down over 2 percent as of yesterday’s close. That is not unexpected given the price movement of gold, commodities and the dollar.

What we are seeing is a realignment of assets as the markets prepare for 2011.

The primary reason for the appreciation of the dollar over the last week is that Europe is about to unload a mountain of debt on the world. Greece is selling $1.94 billion in debt today, while Portugal is hitting the market for $1.73 billion tomorrow. Spain and Italy will come begging for new funds on Thursday. As a result, the euro has fallen from 1.34 to 1.29 (down over 4 percent) since the first of the month. The shift to dollars is the result of the market knowing that there is going to be a huge amount of new euros flooding the market. That spells inflation. Frankly, it does not get much worse than that.

It really is not much better in the US. This is a case of trying to figure out which economy is in the worse shape: the US or the European Union.

The overall picture for 2011 has not changed in the last two weeks. However, a dimension to economic growth that we mentioned last year is starting to take shape.

We know that inflation is an economy killer. It does not matter how much economic output grows up if inflation destroyed purchasing power. It does not do any good to get a 50-percent salary increase if prices went up 60 percent.

But this is what has changed on the global economic front in the last month.

Europe had taken the policy attitude through 2009 and 2010 that they would reduce spending and keep the money printing as tight as possible. The US has no intentions of reducing spending and intends to keep the presses printing money at full speed.

As a result of US policy, nations have been talking about a currency and trade war. As recently as yesterday, Brazil’s finance minister said, “This is a currency war that is turning into a trade war.”

Let’s face it. Wars are won by the guy with the biggest army and the biggest guns. And no one, not the Europeans, not the Chinese, not any country whose economy is tied to US can win a trade/currency war against Uncle Sam.

The Europeans have quietly surrendered to US economic policy and soon Brazil and the others will fall into line.

The Chinese are no different. Remember the renminbi is fixed to the dollar. You know that if you have traveled to Hong Kong. A strong peso against the dollar means a strong peso against the Hong Kong dollar and vice-versa.

This is what is going to happen.

Economic-growth numbers from the US are going to get stronger quarter by quarter. I know this seems like a change in my opinion but wait for a moment. With all the major economies now deciding to inflate their economies through money printing, the numbers are going higher, much higher. Real wealth creation will be near zero as inflation will take it away. But the numbers will look good and stock-market prices and, maybe even at some point, real estate will rise. All dollar-denominated prices will go up over the next year.

Global debt will not be an issue because there will now be an abundance of new money to repay the debt. Yes, it is like Monopoly money but as long as everyone has a big stack, no one will complain.

This early, trading with a rising dollar was rejoicing by the US New York Banksters that the war is over and the US has won.

What about real-growth economies like the Philippines?

Quantitative Easing or unrestrained money printing is like being hooked on drugs or like being an alcoholic. It is much more fun if all your friends and neighbors joined in. Also, if everybody is doing it, then it can’t be wrong. The US wants every nation to join the party.

Even if you were not a part of that scene, still, looking in from the outside, you think, “Maybe it is OK, and I should get in on the fun.” While we in the Philippines are trying to stay financially ‘sober,” the peso and the PSE have depreciated thinking maybe we should join the party. But we will not.

The government’s move to issue debt denominated in pesos is absolutely brilliant. It frees us from the dollar, like going to Baguio the weekend your neighbors are having a wild party. Further, we must raise the value of the peso through this year to counter the coming effects of global inflation. We are sitting on a mountain of US dollars that we will not have to use to repay new government debt. Those dollars will be used to fight inflation.

Hold strong. The best is yet to come for the Philippines.

E-mail comments to PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by Inc.

Monday, 10 January 2011

A 2020 Vision for the Philippine Economy (Part II)

By Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas

MANILA, Philippines—In the power sector, non-oil sources of energy will account for 70 percent or more of power generation, especially geothermal, natural gas, coal, biomass, hydro, wind, and solar.

I would also venture to say that by 2020, the construction of a nuclear plant somewhere in the island of Mindanao would have started to reduce the dependence of that second largest and most populated island on the very unreliable hydro power.

Also, by 2020, I am confident that the reforms recommended by Daniel E. Chalmers, chairman and CEO of GN Power, in the 7 Big Winners Summit last 28 October 2010 would have been fully implemented: a) the promotion of open access and retail competition and the choice and the responsibility given to a consumer; b) users of power to be more proactive and educated in contracting their power supply as a prudent measure for their power requirements; c) encouragement of private investors for additional capacity to support demand growth and create stability both in the grid and the market.

A major portion of the yearly FDI flows of $7 to $10 will be invested in the energy sector led, among others, by AES, one of the largest energy companies in the US. Some of the largest conglomerates in the Philippines, e.g. San Miguel Corporation, the Metro Bank group, the SM group, the Aboitiz group, the Metro Pacific group will be heavily invested in energy, raising significantly the efficiency of the sector. Electricity rates in the Philippines will no longer be the highest in the region.

In the manufacturing sector, food and beverage will continue to be the largest component. Auto parts manufacturing will survive competition in the Asean, with the appropriate incentives (not necessarily tax) from the government. By 2020, the total domestic market for cars can exceed 500,000 units a year, enabling some local car parts manufacturing to reach the necessary economies of scale to be regionally competitive.

Electronics exports will continue to fuel the manufacturing of electrical machinery, with higher-value products replacing the merely labor-intensive items of the last thirty years. As recommended by John Forbes of the American Chamber of Commerce, manufactured exports will have diversified by 2020 to creative industry products (e.g fashion goods), minerals, processed foods, and solar panels, among others.

In mining, the Aquino administration will be able to implement the desired key reforms identified by Benjamin Philip G. Romualdez, president of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, to wit, a) resolution of all the issues surrounding conflict between local government units (LGUs) and national government in the development of mineral resources, such as the legality of local ordinances banning mining and open pit mining and imposition of taxes by LGUs on mining companies, in addition to those specified in national laws; b) maintaining stable investment environment to promote local and foreign investment in the mining industry; c) transparency and good governance to reduce cost of doing business.

With these desired key reforms, by 2020 exports of mineral ores can be contributing more than $10 billion of revenues, especially from gold, copper, and nickel exports, considering the rapidly expanding demand for these commodities in China, India, and the other emerging markets. More than 500,000 workers will be employed in the mining sector by 2020. The mining companies will be exemplary in the practice of corporate social responsibility (CSR), especially as regards protection of the environment and the humane treatment of indigenous people in the mining areas, as the CSR Guidebook for the Mining Industry launched in 2010 is fully implemented. The mining sector will make a major contribution to the reduction of poverty since mining operations are in the remote rural areas, where 75 percent of the Philippine poor reside.

In the tourism industry, there will be some seven million foreign tourists traveling to the Philippines as the Open Skies policy is implemented during the Aquino administration, allowing more foreign airlines to fly directly to the Philippines, especially to airports outside the National Capital Region.

Among the new airports to be constructed in the next five to six years will be the Panglao Airport, Laguindingan, Puerto Princesa, Daraga International Airport, Kalibo, and the NAIA Terminal 3 upgrade full operationalization. The Clark International Airport will replace the Metro Manila airport as the main gateway to the Philippines from abroad. Angeles City will be the hub of a new metropolitan area that will develop in Central Luzon.

Even more important as an engine of growth of tourism is domestic tourism as 20 million middle-income Filipinos are expected to travel out of their usual place of residence to tourist destinations all over the archipelago, many of them taking advantage of the Philippine Nautical Highway that was started during the Arroyo administration and will undergo continuous improvement in the next six years under the Aquino government. To accommodate these tourists, there will be a mushrooming of bed-and-breakfast facilities all over the countryside, giving a boost to small family-run enterprises in the tourism industry.

I do not claim this 2020 vision to be an accurate forecast. It is my vision of what could be a reality 10 years from now if the government, the business sector, and civil society will cooperate to implement the reforms and programs identified in several symposia, conferences, workshops, and consultations that I have attended over the last few months since the inauguration of the Aquino presidency.

I repeat my most important assumption: The persons put in charge by President Aquino in all the departments that have to do directly with the accomplishment of the objectives for which the state is responsible are highly qualified, experienced, and honest individuals who will work for the common good of Philippine society. I do believe we are in good hands. Anyone who disagrees with this assumption will, of course, highly doubt the realism of this 2020 vision.

For comments, my email address is

New-look Azkals parade new coach against Mongolia

Business Mirror

When the men’s national team takes to the Panaad pitch in Bacolod on February 9 for the first match of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup against Mongolia, the players will do so with a new head coach and a different lineup.

Hans Michael Weiss, a 45-year-old German with a coaching résumé that has seen him patrol pitches from Japan to China to Rwanda, is now the head coach of the Azkals. He replaced Simon McMenemy, who during his four-month stint with the nationals steered them to a semifinals finish in the 2010 Suzuki Cup.

McMenemy’s lack of a “B” coaching license from the Fifa automatically eliminated him from continuing the job for the Challenge Cup where it is a requirement.

The Deutscher Fussball Bund (German Football Federation) got in touch with the national team management, headed by Dan Palami, even before the Azkals began their group stage stint in the Suzuki Cup in Vietnam to offer their help. But with the Suzuki Cup ongoing, Palami was unable to take up the offer until last week.

The Germans offered the services of any one of three coaches—Weiss, Karsten Neitzel and Lutz Pfannenstiel. Of the three, Weiss was tapped to coach with Pfannenstiel, a goalkeeper, possibly helping out. He is the only professional player in the world to have played on all six continents and founded Global United FC, a team of ex-professionals who champion awareness of climate change.

While in Germany, Palami’s group met with several Filipino-Germans who expressed interest in playing for the Philippines. They include brothers Manuel, Mike and Marko Ott; and Mark Drinkuth, who was with the Azkals in the Vietnam leg of the 2010 Suzuki Cup.

William Guerridoni, Oliver Potsche, Patrick Reichelt, Patrick Herget and Ralph Koch also showed interest, as well as Filipino-Dane Dennis Cagara, who was reported to express interest but could be encountering problems because Denmark does not allow dual citizenship. Palami said he met Cagara’s father, a fellow Leyte native like himself, during the holidays.

The team will conduct open tryouts for the national team from January 17 to 19 at the University of Makati from 4 to 6 p.m.

After the Panaad match with Mongolia, the Azkals will play an away game in Ulaanbaatar on March 15.

Auto industry breaks record sales

Sales up 27.2% in 2010
Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines – The local auto industry capped the year 2010 with a strong double-digit growth at 27.2% versus the previous year selling 168,490 units, surpassing the industry’s highest ever sales benchmark of 162,000 units in 1996 on back of strong business confidence and recovery of the domestic economy.

“It is about time the industry surpassed that benchmark. 2010 was an auspicious year for the auto industry, showing strong growth backed by major accomplishments that will help the industry as a whole move forward,” said Elizabeth Lee, president of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI).

Based on the CAMPI report, out of the overall 168,490 unit sales in 2010 the passenger car segment sold a total of 58,691 units or 27 percent higher than the 46,228 units sold in 2009.

The commercial vehicle contributed the bulk of the 2010 sales with 109,799 units or 27.4 percent higher than the 86,216 units sold in 2010.

Of the commercial vehicle segment, the light commercial vehicle category, which are mostly sports utility vehicles, accounted the biggest sales of 69,754 units or 32.3 percent higher than the 52,708 units in 2009. The Asian utility vehicle category grew 21.9 percent to 36,903 units as against 30,262 units in 2009.

Sales of light trucks, however, ended lower with 2,005 units sold versus 2,027 total sales in 2009 while trucks and buses and buses sales also declined by 6.7 percent to 1,137 units from 1,219 units in 2009.

The 2010 sales, however, failed to meet the latest revised target of CAMPI of between 170,000 units to 175,000 unit sales this year.

Of the 20 auto players operating in the country, Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. continued to dominate with sales of 56,855 units or 23.1 percent higher than its 2009 sales of 46,193 units. Toyota also expanded its market share to 34.9 percent this year from 33.7 percent in 2009.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. finished second with 32,422 units followed by Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. with 18,696 units, Honda Cars Philippines Inc. with 16,604 units and Isuzu Philippines Corp. with 10,695 units.

“2011 is likewise seen to be a positive year as overall economic environment continues to be relatively favorable with sustained business and consumer confidence, GDP growth, stable FOREX, positive forecast for OFW remittances, manageable inflation rate forecast, continued healthy financing environment, as well as new model introductions by auto players this year,” Lee said.

The initial growth forecast for 2011 sales is about 4-5% as the industry expects sales this year to more or less follow the regular seasonality typical of auto sales. (BCM)

Studies say UK largest investor in country

Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines –The United Kingdom (UK) is the largest investor in the Philippines for the past decade.

Citing the most recent studies conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the British Embassy in Manila disclosed that the UK had a combined net foreign direct and net portfolio investments from 1999-2009 of an estimated $9.7 billion, rivaled only by Singapore with a much smaller $6.7-billion cumulative investment.

According to the British Embassy, this was largely due to the pre-eminence of the UK as a global financial center.

The Embassy said there are currently about 200 British companies active in the Philippines ranging from big multinationals to small medium enterprises.

Major British companies in currently in the country include Anglo-American, Shell, HSBC, BG, Standard Chartered, Pru Life and Unilever. A number of British companies are active in successful retail franchising, these include Debenhams, M & S, Speedo, Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Warehouse, Clarks Shoes, Burberry, Paul Smith, Dunhill and Mothercare.

On the other hand, HSBC, Shell, Logica, Atkins, the Financial Times and Northgate Arinso are among the British companies active in business process outsourcing.

In training, Balfour Beatty and Cape Plc have established technical training centers in Manila, training Filipinos in the technical skills to support the operations of these companies around the world.

Among the most recent UK business successes in the Philippines were the establishment of a partnership last year between Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and the De La Salle University (DLSU) for the delivery of the CIMA Masters Gateway Assessment (CMGA) courses.

In August 2010, AIMA registered an office in the Philippines to tap into the growing market of students seeking a UK education.

Meanwhile, in April 2010, TAMS signed an agreement with Transworld Philippines for the distribution of the company's chemical disinfectants to Philippine farms.

In March 2010, UK renewable energy firm Global Green Power PLC held a reception at the British Ambassador's Residence to mark the contract signing with engineering contractors and technology partners for its biomass projects in the Philippines.

As of February 2010, design firm Broadway Malyan was working on three major projects with one of the Philippines’ major developers, Century Properties.

The Britsih Embassy in a statement, described that UK-Philippine trade relations as "good." However, the balance of trade remains as it has over the last few years, in favor of the Philippines in a ratio of about 3:1.

Total exports of goods to Philippines for January to October 2010 were £242 million, an increase of 14 percent on the same period in 2009. Imports in the period were pegged at £413 million, or a rise of 29 percent on the same period last year.

In terms of the UK's share of world exports to the Philippines, the Embassy said the UK remains in 15th position after the United States, Japan, China, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, and regional neighbors.

Based on 2008 and 2009 figures, the UK is a net importer of goods and services with £115 million and and £38 million, respectively.

UK’s top three exports of goods are electrical machinery & appliances, with £45 million; medicinal & pharmaceutical products, with £45 million; and power generating machinery with £23 million.

On the other hand, UK’s top three imports of goods in 2009 include electrical machinery & appliances, with £118 million; fish, crustaceans & mollusks, with £30 million; and articles of apparel and clothing with £28 million.