Focus on Philippine growth, not political noise, US investors urged
Despite lingering political noise, economic managers urged US investors to focus on the Philippines’ growth story and enticed them to take advantage of increasing business and investment opportunities here.
“The Philippine economy is delivering the performance we anticipated, notwithstanding the political noise and a significant terrorist event in Mindanao. We have become an engine of growth for this part of the world,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told participants of the Philippine Economic Briefing in New York City last Wednesday.
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“We are also expecting more investments coming in as we modernize our infrastructure and reform our economic policies to spur business activity. Investment-led growth will make our domestic economy more inclusive and create quality jobs for our people. This will help bring down poverty incidence. Our entire economic strategy seeks to bring down poverty incidence from the current 21 percent to 14 percent by 2022,” Dominguez said.
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In a statement, the government’s Investor Relations Office (IRO) said economic managers expressed confidence that the Philippines is poised to be “Asia’s next powerhouse,” hence invited American businessmen to look into opportunities in the agriculture, connectivity, countryside development, education, financial services, health services, housing and urban development, manufacturing as well as tourism sectors.
“While the Philippines and the United States already enjoy significant economic relations—with the US being one of the Philippines’ biggest trading partners and among the major sources of remittances and investments—the officials believe there is much room for business ties between the two countries to grow,” the IRO said.
For Dominguez, “the Philippines, which has become one of the fastest growing and among the most resilient economies in Asia, faces even more promising times ahead on the back of the government’s massive investments in infrastructure and human capital development along with its steadfast commitment to sound economic management, and the country’s demographic advantage arising from its young and highly educated workforce.”
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo told US investors that the country’s healthy external payments position as well as price stability augur well for the economy.
“Stable inflation contributes to the overall positive investment climate in the Philippines. Our latest estimates up to 2019 show that inflation, aided by the conduct of prudent monetary policy, will stay well within the target range of 2-4 percent. In addition, our healthy external payments position, marked by manageable balance of payments and ample foreign exchange reserves, gives investors comfort about the Philippines’ resilience to any external risks in the future,” Guinigundo said.
For the country’s chief economist, the ambitious “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program will support sustained robust economic growth.
“The Philippine government is pursuing transformative initiatives, led by a pipeline of game-changing flagship infrastructure projects that will significantly ease mobility and develop alternative growth hubs across the country’s pivotal urban and rural centers. The current administration is committed to pursuing this aggressive infrastructure investment program over the medium-term to raise the country’s competitiveness and boost the economy, reaching up to 7.3-percent share of GDP [gross domestic product] by 2022. Investors, both foreign and local, are expected to benefit from the wide-ranging income opportunities now and in the years to come.” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.
Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said the government “will use its fiscal space as well as proceeds of the proposed comprehensive tax reform program to support our bold infrastructure development agenda.”
“We are keen on hitting upper middle income status by 2022 and making our economic growth more equitable partly through infrastructure development. This while we exercise fiscal discipline,” Diokno added.
For his part, tycoon Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala was quoted by the IRO as saying that “as the Philippines continues to be one of the best performing economies in the region and as fiscal measures such as the tax reform bill makes progress, business sentiment in the country continues to be positive.”
“We are pleased to see the consistent efforts of the government’s economic team to foster closer trade and investment ties with international partners,” added the chair and chief executive of Ayala Corp., among the biggest and most diversified conglomerates in the country.
As such, “foreign investors, including those from the United States, are very much welcome to explore income opportunities in our business-friendly country and be part of our exciting growth story over the medium to long term,” Dominguez said.
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