MANILA – Speaker Martin Romualdez on Tuesday said the bright economic prospect of the Philippines and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) amid fears of a global slowdown boosts President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s efforts to lure more investments into the country during his participation at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.
“President Marcos’ participation in the Davos meet this year is timely, as favorable economic forecasts for both the Philippines and the ASEAN would serve him in good stead in his effort to secure more investments that would allow our country to shake off the effects of the pandemic and protect us from global headwinds,” Romualdez said.
During a luncheon hosted for President Marcos and his delegation at the WEF, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the government is expecting a strong full-year gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2022, and around 6.5 percent GDP growth in 2023.
"And that’s still one of the highest if not the highest growth projection in the Asia-Pacific Region,” Diokno said.
Romualdez also cited the Jan. 14, 2023 article of Jo-Ok Lee, head of the Regional Agenda for the Asia Pacific region at the WEF, who noted that ASEAN is one of the few bright spots as the global economy continues to stall.
Lee noted that ASEAN economies enjoyed strong growth in 2022 amid a post-Covid-19 surge in activity.
While the global chill will have some effect, Lee said overall growth forecasts for 2023 are pegged at 4.4 percent for the ASEAN-6 (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam).
In addition, Lee said the pandemic prompted a huge update in online trade in the region that several ASEAN countries are now leading globally in some sectors of digitalization, including e-commerce retail growth.
Lee said the Philippines and Malaysia are the two top countries in this respect, “registering growth of 25 percent and 23 percent respectively per year,” aside from the fact that the Philippines is also continuing to serve as a steady source of online labor to the rest of the world.
“Taken together, these factors make a compelling case to showcase the Philippines as an investment hub during President Marcos’ interaction with global industry and government leaders at the World Economic Forum,” said Romualdez, who is part of the President’s official delegation to WEF.
President Marcos is the lone ASEAN leader and one of the only two leaders from Asia attending this year’s forum.
Apart from members of the Cabinet, seven of the country’s top businessmen are in Davos to support Marcos’ inaugural participation in the WEF 2023 meet.
The second day of the WEF is scheduled to kick off Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. (around 4:30 p.m. PH time) with the speech of Switzerland President Alain Berset.
Among the key activities President Marcos is scheduled to join includes the Philippines Country Strategy Dialog with the economic team, as well as separate bilateral meetings with Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and with officials of the mining and commodities trading giant Glencore.
Later in the day, President Marcos and First Lady Louise Araneta-Marcos are scheduled to join WEF founder and Chair Dr. Klaus Schwab and his wife Hilde in a private dinner.
It was Dr. Schwab who invited Marcos to attend the WEF during a breakfast meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN summits in Cambodia in November last year.
Romualdez was instrumental in arranging the breakfast meeting between Marcos and Schwab.
Romualdez said Marcos’s participation at the WEF is off to a good start following “a very positive response” from some of the world’s top business leaders.
“This is an auspicious start and bodes well for the success of the President’s mission here at the WEF and that is to position the Philippines as an investment hub and gateway to the Asia-Pacific region,” Romualdez said.
The positive response happened during a dinner Monday hosted for the President by Grab Chairperson and CEO Anthony Tan at the sidelines of the WEF.
The Speaker, who was present during the dinner, noted that "everyone was excited about the Philippine recovery story and agreed that it is the future investor haven for western capital."
“I am confident that the President would get the same response as he articulates the gains made under his administration to make the Philippines more investment-friendly,” Romualdez said.
Among those present during the dinner were Luhut Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister of Maritime and Investment Affairs, Republic of Indonesia; Andy Jassy, CEO, Amazon; Jared Kushner, Founder, Affinity Partners; Patrick Foulis, Editor-in-Chief, Economist; Alan Jope, CEO, Unilever; Bill Ford, CEO, General Atlantic, one of the largest equity firms in the world;
Molly Ford, Wife of Bill Ford; Bahlil Lahadalia, Minister of Investment, Republic of Indonesia; Dr. Bambang Susantono, Chairman of ID New Capital City Authority; Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Minister of Thailand; Jaime Bautista, Philippine Secretary of Transportation; Arsjad Rasjid, Chairman, KADIN; Tony Blair, Executive Chairman, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change; Dolf van den Brink, CEO, Heineken; and Rachel Lord, Head of Asia, BlackRock, one of the largest investment firms in the world.
Marcos is also expected to soft launch the country’s sovereign wealth fund, otherwise known as the Maharlika Investment Fund, at the WEF. (PNA)