President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. without exaggeration has brought home the bacon after his weeklong working visit to the United States. His travel was an expeditious one and judging from the news surrounding his US journey, Mr. Marcos performed his job like a true statesman.
I congratulate Mr. Marcos Jr. for his exceptional speech at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly and for promoting the Philippines as a key destination for American investors in the Asia-Pacific region.
Barely three months into his job, Mr. Marcos impressed many for his astute remarks and grasp of international politics. Speaking at the UN, the President underscored the Philippines’s strong experience in building peace, the importance of adhering to rules-based international order to settle disputes, and an independent foreign policy that makes our nation a “friend to all and an enemy of none.”
The Philippines has always taken the side of peace in resolving international and internal conflicts to avoid the loss of lives and improve the livelihood of our people. This is what makes the Philippines probably the friendliest nation to its neighbors, international tourists and foreign investors.
The President, accompanied by his economic advisers, motivated US companies to invest in renewable energy, mineral processing and infrastructure in the Philippines. His message underlines the priority of the government in attracting foreign investments as an engine of economic growth and employment generation.
We have a strong domestic economy but we need more foreign direct investments to open more jobs and opportunities for our labor force, facilitate technology transfer and help cover our balance of payments deficit caused by rising imports.
Our rapid growth this year led to stronger demand for imported raw materials, fuel, food, vehicles and production inputs needed by our factories. Hopefully, we can reduce our reliance on imports by encouraging international companies to set up shop in the country.
The President stressed the importance of bilateral ties with the US, saying he could not envision the Philippines in the future without having the United States as a partner. Such charm offensive is music to the ears of prospective American investors.
His visit to the New York Stock Exchange to woo investors defined his businesslike agenda. Stock market traders and American businessmen heard the Philippine economic story firsthand from the Philippine leader.
The Philippine economy has returned to its path toward the upper-middle-income country status, which is certainly achievable within the next few years. We were on course to becoming an upper-middle economy at the start of this decade, until the pandemic disrupted that momentum. But I am optimistic we could regain the track towards joining this group of countries with at least $4,000 in gross national income per capita in a couple of years, with the help of foreign investments.
The Philippines offers many advantages to foreign investors, including high-quality labor, a large consumer market and a wide range of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, as President Marcos told his American audience. He listed the government’s near-term priorities, such as protecting the purchasing power of families by managing inflation, reducing the scarring effects of the pandemic and ensuring sound macroeconomic fundamentals.
Mr. Marcos’s investment pitch received a timely backing from the Asian Development Bank last week. The multilateral institution acknowledged the strong growth prospects of the Philippines despite higher inflation due to global and local price pressures.
The ADB in its latest report predicted that the gross domestic product of the Philippines would grow 6.5 percent in 2022, faster than the bank’s April forecast of 6.0 percent. It also expects the economy to expand 6.3 percent in 2023. The ADB’s glowing report on the Philippine economy has made President Marcos’s task of convincing foreign investors to place their bet on the Philippines easier.
I sincerely believe that President Marcos as a no-nonsense leader will bring more foreign investments into the Philippines. He has shown his adeptness on political and economic issues when he met members of the US Chamber of Commerce and the US-Asean Business Council.
More importantly, he raised the profile of the Philippines in the US—the world’s biggest economy.