WASHINGTON DC—Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has told leaders of the American business community that now is the “best time” for them to invest more in the Philippines so they could maximize the benefits of participating in a robust economy poised to become Asia’s next economic powerhouse.
Speaking before members of the United States Chamber of Commerce (USSC), Dominguez said American companies can participate in new opportunities in the Philippines, in, among others, the sectors of energy, infrastructure, information and communications, technology, health, and education to further strengthen the bilateral ties between Manila and Washington.
“Our prospects for faster economic growth in the coming years should be an avenue for stronger collaboration with the US, especially with the private sector. We would like to encourage US businesses to be more engaged in the Philippine market not only in the infrastructure program but also in investments that would come as a result of our infrastructure development,” Dominguez said during a roundtable lunch with USSC members held last April 12 at the organization’s headquarters here.
Also at the roundtable lunch were USSC officials led by Senior Vice President for Asia Charles Freeman, Executive Director for Southeast Asia John Goyer, and Senior Manager for Southeast Asia Javiera Gallardo.
They were joined by top executives from Texas Instruments, Coca Cola, TransUnion, Proctor & Gamble, Dow, Cargill, Fluor, Philip Morris International and IBM.
Dominguez said the Philippines is now in a promising position to become “Asia’s next powerhouse” as a result of its rapid economic expansion sustained through the government’s implementation of tough reforms and record investments in infrastructure and human capital development.
To further build investor confidence, Dominguez said the Duterte administration is currently undertaking efforts to address government inefficiency, the infrastructure gap, official corruption, and the high cost of doing business.
The signing into law of the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Act and the administration’s push for the swift congressional approval of the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and Higher Quality Opportunities (TRABAHO) Bill–it aims to lower the corporate income tax (CIT) rate and rationalize fiscal incentives to make them performance-based, time-bound, targeted and fully transparent–are among the measures being undertaken by the Duterte administration to further enhance the Philippines’ status as a premier investment destination in the region.
“You are looking at a Philippines that is invigorated and moving forward very quickly,” Dominguez told USSC members during the event.
Dominguez reassured USSC members that as far as the TRABAHO bill is concerned, the government will not remove fiscal incentives but would even improve on these investment perks.
But he said there was a need to correct the current convoluted system in which 14 investment promotion agencies are able to grant incentives that do not have any time limits nor performance indicators.
Under the TRABAHO bill, Dominguez said reforms will be put in place to ensure that incentives are performance-based, specifically targeted, transparent and time-bound so that the Philippines can attract investors that focus on robotics, big data analysis and industries of the future.
The Duterte administration is also seeking the congressional approval of reforms that aim to modernize the country’s outmoded real property valuation system and simplify tax rates for capital income and other financial instruments, Dominguez added.