Foreign chamber says more work needed to uplift economyBy Riza T. Olchondra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines said it believed that while economic growth in the Philippines was very encouraging, the country still has a long way to go on the road to becoming a middle-income economy.
To do so, the JFC said the country must work on much-needed infrastructure, remove more barriers to the entry of foreign investments and address the need to become part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and negotiate a free-trade agreement with the European Union.
The JFC also reiterated its recommendation that the Philippines focus on more rapid development of seven key sectors, namely, manufacturing and logistics, infrastructure, tourism, information technology, creative industries, agribusiness and mining.
In an assessment paper, the JFC said “substantive improvement” has been noted in BPO, policy infrastructure, telecommunications, logistics and the general business environment with emphasis on labor. “Sectors rated as having less improvement, however, were mining, agribusiness, tourism and manufacturing.”
“[The Philippines] cannot afford to be complacent about what until now can best be classified as short-term gains and rectification of prior poor governance,” the JFC said. “Today the Philippines has at least two important windows of opportunity, which should not be lost.” Externally, the country has attracted increased attention and respect as foreign manufacturers and other investors seek to relocate or expand to new sites. Internally, President Aquino enjoys high approval ratings for highlighting government’s fight against corruption, raising taxes, and initiating a modern public sector reproductive health policy.”
The JFC noted that similar opportunities were lost in the past, underlining the importance of moving the Philippines to a sustainable high growth path with focus on inclusive growth.
Even the National Economic and Development Authority has noted that 2013 would be a crucial year for the Philippines. “Given the fiscal space and business confidence, we have the opportunity to accelerate the implementation of development programs to lift the living standard of our people. We need to sustain the growth momentum and achieve inclusive growth. These two objectives need not contradict each other. In fact, inclusive growth is not just a goal but a growth strategy,” said Economic Planning Secretary and Neda director general Arsenio Balisacan.