JFC expresses support to Duterte programs

August 25, 2017 at 10:56

JFC expresses support to Duterte programs

By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat | Published 

Foreign business chambers yesterday expressed their full confidence and support to President Duterte’s administration even as they highlighted peace and order of any country as critical factor in attracting and making investment decision.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (ALFRED FRIAS/Presidential Photo | Manila Bulletin)

MB File- President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (ALFRED FRIAS|Presidential Photo| Manila Bulletin)


The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC), comprising of business chambers of the US, Canada, EU, Japan, Korea, and Australia-New Zealand, gave a brief preview of their economic assessment on the government and domestic economy at a pre-event press conference for its 6th Arangkada Forum with the theme “Implementing the Ten-Point Agenda” to be held on September 14 this year.

The forum takes place at a time when the prospects for the Philippine business and investment climate remain very positive. Despite some security issues, which have weakened the country’s image abroad, JFC cited the country’s GDP growth, one of the highest in Asia, remains above 6.5 percent per annum and has been positive for almost two decades.

It cited the unemployment and underemployment rates — the highest in ASEAN — are slowly declining, as is the poverty high proportion of population living with $2 or less a day. Gross capital formation is steadily rising, inflation is low, and foreign reserves are high. Foreign direct investments have grown over 500 percent in 2014, 2015, and 2016 to over $6 billion a year, with potential to rise soon above $10 billion. JFC also cited country’s, favorable potential demographic dividend. Nevertheless, its economic engine is not running on all cylinders, a challenge which will be examined at the forum.

“On the economic side, we are still confident, we have a very good economic team. Progress is starting and seems going in the right direction,” said Julian Payne, president of the Canadian Chamber said.

Payne even downplayed the perceived peace and order situation in the Philippines stressing it does “not necessarily stop business as long as it is being addressed.”

Generally, he said, business looks into an environment that is peaceful, there is law and order and security. If the peace and order is deteriorating, that is adverse for the economy, but it is positive if it is improving.

“This is true in any country, that being said business looks for stability,” he said citing the case of Thailand, which has its own peace and order issue, but has been able to manage and balance that it has not really become a discouraging factor for businesses to thrive.

On the contrary, he said, the Philippines has security issue in Marawi, Mindanao but it has been generalized to mean the Philippines. The peace and order situation in the country must be put in the proper perspective, he said.

Gaunter Taus, president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), stressed that peace and order is something that business can live with anytime, but “what is killing business is uncertainty” because that is not tangible.

Taus explained that for foreign investors, who have been doing business in the country already, it would be easy for them to understand as they have a clearer understanding of the domestic situation, but for an investor somewhere in EU who is planning $500 million project in a country where there is a peace and order situation he would be naturally hesitant to come because he does not know what is coming his way.

With the ASEAN integration, Taus stressed that it is imperative that the Philippines must ensure “we are a destination of choice.”  He further said that peace and order is critical for an economy to grow and to create jobs.

Bruce Winton, president of the American Chamber, cited the points raised by the Taus and Payne. As general manager of Marriott Manila, Winton said the tourism industry looks at the headlines. While tourists can easily call up the local business chambers for guidance, the ordinary tourists will just rely on the headlines.

“Sometimes, headlines focus on the negative like Charlottsville, but you have to dig deeper to see the positive,” he said adding that “peace and order are big words” and that investors always look at positive angle as much as possible.

Winton, who has been involved in the tourism industry in the Philippines for the past seven years, stressed the need to drive the volume of tourists into the Philippines by focusing on the positive headlines.

Lee Ho Ik, president of the Korean Chamber, said that Koreans feel safer in the Philippines than in South Korea given the tense situation in the Korean Peninsula. There are 1.5 million Korean tourists flocking to the Philippines annually making Korea the number one in tourist arrivals.

“Despite security issues, one thing very interesting is that the Philippines is a lot safer than Korea, and it is only three hours away from Korea,” he pointed out.

Not only Korean tourists are coming to the Philippines, Lee said but also big Korean investors are expanding in the country.

“We support President Duterte, not the killings, but we support the removal of crime and corruption because that is good for the country,” he added.

The foreign businessmen also noted that while the domestic economy is doing very well and that Congress is aggressive enough in amending some laws to open up the economy, Payne said the challenge is to keep the infrastructure projects moving, implementation of anti-corruption measures, and easing of foreign investments.

Hiroshi Shiraishi, president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, which cited the huge investments by Japanese companies in the manufacturing sector, also expressed hope for improved ease of doing business in the country in the next five years.

For its part, the Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce noted on the need for the government to come up with a competitive incentive package to attract more investors into the country.

Source: https://business.mb.com.ph/2017/08/23/jfc-expresses-support-to-duterte-programs/


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