Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told the American business community in New York that the Philippines has started to deliver on its anticipated economic breakout under President Duterte, turning the country into one of Asia’s growth engines, despite the political noise and the recent terrorist attack in Marawi City.
He highlighted the accelerated actual economic expansion from 6.4 percent in the first quarter to 6.5 percent in the second quarter and prospects of greater growth down the line no matter that both the United States and China, who are some of the country’s largest trade partners, look to tighten their respective monetary-policy structures over the medium term.
Such an event could help tame the country’s growth potential and by extension, the government’s ability to deliver on its growth commitments.
Dominguez also said the Philippines expects greater foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows in the years ahead as the government steps up efforts to modernize infrastructure and reform business policies to sustain the growth momentum, create more jobs, attack poverty and achieve a more inclusive economy
He, likewise, said in New York that the US is an “ally of long standing” helping the country beef up not only its defense capability, but also build effective institutions of governance.
Over the years, Dominguez said the US has been most generous in providing official development assistance (ODA) in support of the country’s priority programs on education, health, energy and environmental protection.
Dominguez added the US has also supported the government with projects to help the Philippines meet its millennium challenge targets and, just recently, provided financial assistance for the rehabilitation of Marawi City, following its attack in May by terrorists aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
He also thanked the American business community in the Philippines for supporting the government’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) designed to ensure a steady revenue flow for infrastructure and social services.
“Our cooperation agreements perfectly complement the strategy for rapid and inclusive growth espoused by the Philippine government. We are looking to both expand and deepen our development cooperation as our economy emerges more rapidly in the following years,” Dominguez said at the briefing held at the Morgan Stanley Auditorium.
With Dominguez at the briefing were secretaries Alan Peter S. Cayetano of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ernesto M. Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority and Benjamin E. Diokno of the Department of Budget and Management; Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Gov. Diwa C. Guinigundo; and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chairman and CEO of the Ayala Group.
The event was jointly organized by Deutsche Bank, Citi Group, Standard Chartered Bank and Morgan Stanley.
“Our people fully appreciate the cooperation between our two countries. As the polls show, the US remains the country Filipinos trust most. We are happy to welcome American investments that will assist us in providing quality jobs for our people,” Dominguez said.
He added over the years the US supported the Philippines “not only in helping us build a credible defense capability but, more significantly, in helping us build more effective institutions of governance”.
The finance chief also cited the “accumulated numerous collaborative agreements” between the Philippines and the US, “the most prominent” of which are the “Mutual Defense Treaty as basis for regular interoperability exercises between the armed forces of our two countries”, along with accords “for sharing of information in our common effort to combat terrorism and transnational crime”.
Dominguez also said that since 2011, the US and the Philippines have engaged in a bilateral strategic dialogue (BSD) that covers important areas as defense and security; rule of law and law enforcement; economics, development and prosperity; and regional and global diplomatic engagement.
At the sixth PH-US BSD held in Washington last year, the two countries agreed on the following 1) deepen trade relationships by removing barriers to both trade and investments; 2) encourage more extensive US participation in infrastructure development in the Philippines; 3) sustain development cooperation, through the completion of the Philippine first compact and the development of both the second compact and the partnership for growth; 4) continue close cooperation on science, technology, agriculture, environment and health; and 5) explore ways to increase US private-sector investment and commercial opportunities in conflict- and disaster-affected areas.
Moreover, Dominguez said the US ODA “has been generous and targeted to support, among others: the improvement of our basic education and health programs; assistance for our energy, water and environmental programs; projects to improve regulatory quality and fiscal space; technical assistance to achieve peace and development in Mindanao; grants to help us achieve our millennium challenge targets; and, most recently, financial support to help us rebuild Marawi after the long siege of terrorists aligned with the ISIS.”
Similar briefings were earlier held by the economic team in Singapore, China and Japan to inform business leaders in these countries of investment prospects in the Philippines.