NEW YORK CITY— Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III told the American business community here that the Philippines has started to deliver on its anticipated economic breakout on the Duterte watch, turning into one of Asia’s engines of growth despite the political noise and the recent terrorist attack in Marawi City.
Dominguez said the Philippines expects greater foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows in the years ahead as the Duterte administration steps up its efforts to modernize infrastructure and reform business policies meant to sustain the growth momentum, create more jobs, attack poverty and achieve a more inclusive economy
He said this in a speech here at the New York leg of the Philippine Economic Briefing where he also cited the United States as the Philippines’ “ally of long-standing” that has helped the country not only beef up its defense capability but also build effective institutions of governance.
Over the years, he said the US has been most generous in providing official development assistance (ODA) in support of the Philippines’ priority programs like education, health, energy and environmental protection.
Dominguez said the US has also supported the government with projects to help the Philippines meet its Millennium Challenge targets and, just recently, provided financial assistance for the rehabilitation of Marawi City following its attack last May by terrorists aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
He also thanked the American business community based in the Philippines for its support for the Duterte administration’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), which is designed to ensure a steady revenue flow for the government’s massive investments in infrastructure and social services.
“Our cooperation agreements perfectly complement the strategy for rapid and inclusive growth espoused by the Philippine government. We are looking to both expand and deepen our development cooperation as our economy emerges more rapidly in the following years,” he said at the briefing held at the Morgan Stanley Auditorium.
Joining Dominguez at the briefing were Secretaries Alan Peter Cayetano of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and Benjamin Diokno of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM); Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Diwa Gunigundo; and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chairman and CEO of the Ayala Group.
The event with the theme ““The Rising Philippine Economy: Powering Gains with Global Partners through Shared Goals” was jointly organized by Deutsche Bank, Citi Group, Standard Chartered Bank and Morgan Stanley.
“Our people fully appreciate the cooperation between our two countries. As the polls show, the US remains the country Filipinos trust most. We are happy to welcome American investments that will assist us in providing quality jobs for our people,” Dominguez said.
He said that over the years, the US has supported the Philippines “not only in helping us build a credible defense capability but, more significantly, in helping us build more effective institutions of governance.”
The finance chief also cited the “accumulated numerous collaborative agreements” between the Philippines and the US, “the most prominent” of which are the “Mutual Defense Treaty that is the basis for regular inter-operability exercises between the armed forces of our two countries,” along with accords “for sharing of information in our common effort to combat terrorism and transnational crime.”
Dominguez also pointed out that since 2011, the US and the Philippines have been engaged in a Bilateral Strategic Dialogue (BSD) that covers four important areas: defense and security; rule of law and law enforcement; economics, development and prosperity; and, regional and global diplomatic engagement.
In the 6th PH-US BSD held in Washington last year, the two countries agreed on the following: 1) deepen trade relationships by removing barriers to both trade and investments; 2) encourage more extensive US participation in infrastructure development in the Philippines; 3) sustain development cooperation, through the completion of the Philippine First Compact and the development of both the Second Compact and the Partnership for Growth; 4) continue close cooperation on science, technology, agriculture, environment and health; and, 5) explore ways to increase US private sector investment and commercial opportunities in conflict- and disaster-affected areas.
Moreover, Dominguez said US ODA “has been generous and targeted to support, among others: the improvement of our basic education and health programs; assistance for our energy, water and environmental programs; projects to improve regulatory quality and fiscal space; technical assistance to achieve peace and development in Mindanao; grants to help us achieve our millennium challenge targets; and, most recently, financial support to help us rebuild Marawi after the long siege of terrorists aligned with the ISIS.”
Similar briefings were earlier held by the economic team in Singapore, China and Japan to inform business leaders in these countries of investment prospects in the Philippines.