MANILA — The Philippine delegation at the 5th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Connectivity Forum in Seoul, Korea was able to highlight the country's attractiveness "as one of the most viable investment destinations in ASEAN," the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Tuesday.

The present administration is pushing an ambitious infrastructure program that will increase roads, modernize ports and airports and provide more mass transit for the cities.

Citing this, Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said the country is undeniably a good destination for foreign investors seeking to explore business opportunities with the Philippines' booming infrastructure sector.

“Philippines is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, a prime destination in ASEAN powered by strategic investment flows and a strategic gateway to ASEAN and ASEAN+6 markets," she said.

She emphasized that the Philippine economy is experiencing robust economic growth and a “Golden Age of Infrastructure” under the helm of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Under the “Build, Build, Build” program, the government is looking to spend at least USD20 billion per year through the medium term to build the urgently needed infrastructure. 

The program will not only ramp up infrastructure spending but will also open up more opportunities in infrastructure development to foreign investors.

According to Florinda Inoturan of the Philippine Public Private Partnership Center, there are several Public-Private Partnership (PPP) infrastructure projects now open to interested foreign investors in the country.

The event, held at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) last November 30, was attended by representatives from ASEAN member states.

Aside from Castelo and Inoturan, also present were Korean Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Kim Hyun-Mee, Indonesian Minister of National Development Planning Bambang Brodjonegoro, Korean Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Cho Hyun, ASEAN-Korea Centre Secretary General Kim Young-Sun and KCCI Executive Vice-President Kim Hyun-mee.


Meanwhile, on Southeast Asian region context, Philippine Permanent Representative to ASEAN Elizabeth Buensuceso, chair for the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN (CPR) and the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee (ACCC), said the bloc, in economic aspects, is ready to engage the world.

“ASEAN is an economic dynamo ready to engage the world through the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 (MPAC2025),” she said, describing the group as an economic powerhouse and a highly attractive region for foreign investments.

The master plan was adopted in Vientiane, Laos last September 2016. It focuses on five strategic areas: sustainable infrastructure, digital innovation, seamless logistics, regulatory excellence and people mobility.

Given that ASEAN needs at least USD110 billion of infrastructure investment each year to support future growth, the MPAC 2025 aims to help investors seize opportunities in sustainable infrastructure by improving project preparations, enhancing infrastructure productivity and supporting cities in adopting sustainable practices. (PNA)