President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. showcased the state of the Philippine economy and the opportunities awaiting to be unlocked by future investors, telling them about moves to make sure the country continues to recover and becomes more conducive for business.
In opening remarks during the Country Strategy Dialogue at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, President Marcos cited an International Monetary Fund (IMF) projection that global economic growth for 2023 would only be at 2.7 percent, slower than the 3.2percent posted in 2022, and significantly lower than the 6.0 percent recorded in 2021.
“But for the Philippines, we project our economy to grow by around 7 percent in 2023. Our strong macroeconomic fundamentals, fiscal discipline, structural reforms and liberalization of key sectors instituted over the years have enabled us to withstand the negative shocks caused by the pandemic and succeeding economic downturns and map a route toward a strong recovery,” the President said.
“We have seen inflation accelerating globally in recent months… We are mindful that while protectionist policies may be appealing, even necessary in the short term, there will ultimately be no long-term winners… We join the call for all governments to unwind any trade restrictions and reinforce our commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO) reform,” President Marcos said.
The President said countries also need to ensure that sufficient welfare measures are in place to cushion the impact of elevated inflationary pressures, especially towards the most affected and vulnerable sectors.
The Philippines continues to focus on sustaining recovery, promoting a local environment that will nurture businesses by helping them maximize their competitiveness and facilitate their entry into the global market, he said.
Also, Marcos stressed the importance of economic and technical cooperation to assist the development of smaller economies and enable their participation, especially of small businesses and economic segments with untapped potential in the global economy.
To address the current energy and food crises, the country’s development plan puts together coherent strategic measures to hasten economic and social recovery toward inclusive and resilient development, underscoring the need for heightened collaboration to realize economic and social transformation.
“The government also recognizes the importance of digitalization as a key driver for long-term economic growth and as a tool for economic transformation,” the President said, promising to empower and enable micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME’s) to participate in the digital economy.
“We have begun large-scale deployment of digital connectivity across the Philippines to ensure universal connectivity, particularly in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas,” Marcos said.
He also underscored the importance of education, skills development and lifelong learning to enhance the employability of workers.
Government interventions and public-private partnerships (PPP’s) must be strengthened to improve access to employment opportunities, President Marcos said, adding that health systems and social protection must also be enhanced to abate and mitigate present and future risks.
Also present during the country dialogue were House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual, and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.
Joo-Ok Lee, the head of the Regional Agenda—Asia-Pacific, and memberof the Executive Committee at the World Economic Forum, acted as the moderator for the dialogue event.
On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) commended President Marcos for his leadership amid the numerous complex challenges faced by the Philippines.
Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF managing director, made the remark during a bilateral meeting with the Chief Executive in Davos, Switzerland.
“We found the Philippines to be an exceptionally well-performing country…what you have done in the last year of turbulence to sustain growth… is quite commendable,” Georgieva told President Marcos.
The IMF, Georgieva said, was ready to help its member countries, including the Philippines, in achieving sustainable growth and pushing for economic policies that would benefit more Filipinos.
“We have been really interested to engage more deeply with our members to recognize the traditional challenges…they are still there,” Georgieva said.
In the meeting, Marcos raised the need to “go back to the basics,” noting the number of challenges faced by the country, especially in food supply.
“We also have to go back to the basics because there are weaknesses in different systems like in food supply, like in energy, infrastructure, climate change… these are the basic problems that we need to be addressing,” President Marcos said.
Mr. Marcos also affirmed his administration’s push to ramp up its digitization initiatives, which are vital in making the bureaucracy more efficient and effective.
The IMF, a special agency of the United Nations, focuses on promoting global monetary cooperation, ensuring financial stability and facilitating international trade, among others.
The Philippines joined the IMF on December 27, 1945.
Former British prime minister Tony Blair told President Marcos that now is the best time to be at the WEF to showcase what’s happening in the Philippines while raising its profile.
During a meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Blair said the Philippines wasn’t in good standing last year.
“So to have somebody to come and articulate very clearly where thecountry is going, what it’s doing. I think it sends a good signal,” Blair said.
Blair also said that consistency is important, especially when dealing with businesses, and that investors need to know the conditions on the ground to make plans.
“There should be some kind of stability, some kind of consistency whichever way you’re going. So in terms of policy from the political end, I think it’s important,” he said.
In October last year, Blair paid a courtesy call on President Marcos in Malacañang and discussed a wide range of topics, including the bureaucracy and governance based on the best practices of developed countries.