By Recto Mercene
The Philippines’s economic transformation, which the Aquino administration largely attributes to its governance reforms, will be the central theme of the Philippine Business and Investment Forum (PBIF) to be held at the Metropolitan Ballroom of the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, New York City, on Thursday.
There are strong indications of greater business confidence and optimism in the country due to potential growth rates of 7 percent to 10 percent in the next decade, and an HSBC Global Research Report predicting the country may yet emerge to be the 16th-largest economy in the world by 2050.
The Philippine economic story consists of record-level macroeconomic and stock-market performances; credit ratings upgrades; improvements in competitiveness rankings; high levels of foreign direct investments; increased tax revenues; and growing demand for world-class Filipino talent; according to Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia Jr.
“This forum is a great opportunity for us to take stock of the incredible performance of the Philippine economy over the past number of years and to bring attention to the successful reforms that have driven the country’s economic transformation since 2010 when President Aquino assumed the presidency,” Cuisia added.
It was Cuisia who initiated the PBIF, which brings together influential leaders from the Philippine government and private sector, along with their US and global counterparts.
The PBIF had conducted an in-depth analysis of the Philippine economic and political situation and the opportunities it holds for investors, both in capital markets and in industry.
The discussions will also focus on the outlook for continued growth in the Philippines, the sustainability of reforms because of their institutionalization through legislation, and US investor sentiment.
Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, who will lead the Philippine delegation, said that the Philippines has a great economic story to tell.
“Our turnaround from ‘the sick man of Asia’ to the region’s resilient, bright spot is something that the Filipino people can be proud of,” Purisima said. “It is a product of painstaking discipline and good governance. We want to go out there and share the fact that despite strong external headwinds, the Philippines is here to stay as a place for growth.” The PBIF is being organized by InvivaLink, a company specializing in the production of business and investment conferences.
InvivaLink Executive Director Nadine Padron said: “The comeback story of the Philippines poses an example for countries around the world of how strong leadership and good governance can substantially change the direction and overall competitiveness of a country.”
“After having had the opportunity to work closely with the country’s public and private sector leadership, we have perceived a clear ‘before and after’ in the mind-set of the Filipinos and a determination to continue to work in this direction, and ultimately remain one of Asia’s strongest contenders,” he added.
In the course of the last few years, the Philippines enhanced its market position and consumer-protection mechanisms through the implementation of important legislation. Not only do these laws increase the Philippines’ attractiveness for investment by prompting a level playing field for domestic and international business, but they also institutionalize the foundations of good governance, fair competition and business transparency engendered by the Aquino administration.
Some of the other key speakers at the PBIF are Virgilio de los Reyes, secretary of agrarian reform; former Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo; Ma. Aurora Geotina-Garcia, chairman of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority; Jose E.B. Antonio, chairman and CEO of Century Properties Group Inc.; Enrique Razon, chairman and president of International Container Terminal Services Inc.; Lorenzo Tan, president of the Bankers Association of the Philippines; Perry Pe, president of the Management Association of the Philippines; Ambassador John Negroponte, cochairman of the US Philippines Society; Nouriel Roubini, chairman of Roubini Global Economics; Alexander Feldman, president and CEO of the US-Asean Business Council; John Chambers, chairman of the S&P Sovereign Debt Committee; Jay Collins, vice chairman of Citigroup; and Terry Dale, president and CEO of the US Travel Operators Association.
The lead partners for the event are the government of the Philippines and the US-Philippines Society. Other institutional partners are the Makati Business Club, the US-Asean Business Council, the US-Chamber of Commerce, the Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham), the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and Amcham Philippines.
“We are honored to produce the PBIF, and attending this event will make it clear to our audience that the Philippines boasts opportunities too large to ignore,” Padron said.