WASHINGTON, D.C. -- “Since the Embassy’s last briefing in December 2015, we have had another peaceful transition of government. In the 9 May national elections, there was historic voter turnout of 81% of some 55 million registered voters.
The balloting in a country of 100 million people went smoothly, and the elections were relatively peaceful and orderly. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte emerged with a clear and strong mandate from the Filipino electorate, which should give the President a stable political foundation to pursue important economic and social priorities,” Minister Patrick A. Chuasoto, Charge d’Affaires ad interim of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC, stated at the Philippine Embassy’s Mid-Year Briefing on key economic developments in the Philippines held at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business on 13 September 2016.
Minister Chuasoto then described how strong macroeconomic fundamentals, prudent public finance management and good governance allowed the Philippines to maintain the strengths of its business environment and competitiveness, as well as continued overall investor confidence. He provided a detailed briefing on the macroeconomic situation of the Philippine economy and on specific sectoral issues and developments.
“In the last few years, the Philippines has consistently registered strong economic performance. It is considered to have one of the highest GDP growth rates throughout Southeast Asia,” Minister Chuasoto told the briefing participants representing US Government agencies, foreign embassies, US corporations and the Filipino-American community.
“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts Philippines’ 2016 and 2017 GDP growth to be at 6% and 6.2%, respectively. Although the IMF had lowered its GDP forecasts for the Philippines due to ‘higher global financial volatility and weather-related disruptions,’ the multilateral financial institution indicates that the Philippine economy will continue to perform ‘remarkably well.’ The Philippine economy continued its positive growth momentum with real GDP accelerating to 6.8% in the first quarter of 2016, and second quarter GDP growth reaching 7%,” he added.
The National Economic and Development Authority has noted that among the key Asian economies who registered their growth data for the second quarter of 2016, the Philippines was the second fastest growing economy, topped only by India at 7.1%, and followed by China at 6.7%, Viet Nam at 5.6%, Indonesia at 5.2%, and Malaysia at 4.0%.
Minister Chuasoto also pointed out some of the opportunities for Philippine-US trade and economics, as well as developments in infrastructure, the unique demographics of the Philippines and the strength of the IT/BPM sector, which all continue to be the main drivers of economic growth and development.
He likewise described the current legislative environment in the Philippines that enhances its market position. He noted further that laws like the Philippine Competition Act, Cabotage Law Amendment, Banking Liberalization Law, and the Freedom of Information Executive Order, not only increase the Philippines’ attractiveness for investment by prompting a level playing field for domestic and international business, but they also institutionalize good governance, fair competition and business transparency.
“This is the legislative and institutional environment that now provides fertile ground for the President’s economic agenda,” Minister Chuasoto noted.
The last part of the briefing focused on how President Rodrigo R. Duterte and his economic team presented the country’s economic situation and the administration’s 10-point socio-economic agenda in the “Sulong Pilipinas” economic forum last June in Davao City. Minister Chuasoto told the audience that since its release, Philippine business, the academe, and members of Congress have expressed support for the plan. This economic agenda largely builds on the existing priorities, but focuses its attention on a number of important areas such as agriculture, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, and ensuring that benefits trickle down to those Filipinos who most need it.
Reactions to the economic briefing were positive and optimistic. "My colleagues and I at the Walsh School of Foreign Service are pleased to co-host this event with the McDonough School of Business's Net Impact and Emerging Markets Network, together with friends and colleagues in the US-Philippines Society, and learn more about one of the most dynamic and fastest growing economies of the South and Southeast Asian region," said Professor Erwin Tiongson, a Filipino-American academic at Georgetown University, in his opening remarks.
The briefing ended with a wide-ranging question and answer discussion with Minister Chuasoto and the Embassy’s Economic Officer, Commercial Counsellor, Agriculture Attaché and Labor Attaché.
Reacting to the briefing, US-Philippines Society President Ambassador (ret) John F. Maisto said, “The Mid-Year Business Update demonstrated in clear and comprehensive terms why the Philippine economy ranks among the most robust in Asia. The presentation also revealed the Duterte Administration's commitment to build on the country's solid macroeconomic fundamentals and ease impediments to investment in order to make the Philippines even more attractive to US business and to provide more inclusive growth, including in the agricultural sector."
The Mid-Year Briefing was co-sponsored by the Philippine Embassy and the US-Philippines Society, and co-hosted by the Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service and the McDonough School of Business’s Net Impact and Emerging Markets Network. - Philippine Embassy, Washington D.C.