Chinese and Japanese home appliance manufacturers are sharpening their focus on the Philippines, where demand for durable goods is expected to surge. China’s Haier Group will introduce its Aqua brand in the Southeast Asian country this year, Nobuhito Hayashi, president of the Philippines operations, said earlier this month. With a population of over 100 million, the Philippines is a market with potential, he said at an event held July 9 in greater Manila, adding that the company aims to triple sales in this country in three years. Haier has been strong in low-price appliances, but now is trying to offer more pricey products, too. It seeks to strengthen its image by launching the Aqua brand it acquired from Japan’s Sanyo Electric, aiming to cultivate demand for more expensive laundry machines and the Coton stain remover, for example. Japan’s Hitachi has also started selling more pricey products in the Philippines. In June, it rolled out refrigerators priced between $1,500 and $3,500. The products achieved the June sales target of 5,000 units in just two weeks. “We didn’t expect this much consumption power,” a Hitachi staffer said in amazement. The Japanese company came back to the market after withdrawing in 1986. The country’s economic growth and political stability over the past several years prompted Hitachi to give it another try.