Thank you, Ambassador Babe Romualdez for your kind introduction.
Ladies and gentlemen
As the Ambassador has pointed out some of our constant friends shall we say – I use that word to avoid using the word old friends – our constant friends and our good friends who are here with us this morning, good morning to you all.
It is a pleasure for me to another successful Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) this time here in San Francisco – home to the biggest, most innovative, and future-ready companies in the world. This marks our twelfth international PEB and it’s the fourth one in the United States.
Since the beginning of this administration in 2022, the Philippine Economic Briefing has been a platform for the economic team to showcase what makes the Philippines one of the best places
to do [business] today.
By bringing conversations on the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals, policy roadmap, and investment opportunities closer to the international business community, we aim to reintroduce the Philippines and jumpstart meaningful, concrete, and mutually beneficial partnerships that will drive growth in the 21st century economy.
Equally important, this is a deliberate and proactive way for us to generate feedback from our investor stakeholders. We consider these suggestions from our partners as vital in our efforts to shape our policies and programs to support economic transformation and recovery.
Over the past year, we embarked on a journey towards economic transformation grounded on sound macroeconomic fundamentals, a favorable business climate, and agile risk management.
More than one year on, in an uncertain global environment beset by slower growth, supply chain disruptions, and geopolitical tensions, the Philippines has continued to rise above the tide.
In 2022, the Philippines registered its highest full-year GDP growth in nearly five decades.
Just last week, we announced that the Philippine economy grew strongly by 5.9 percent in the third quarter of 2023, bringing our growth for the first three quarters of the year to 5.5 percent.
This is the fastest growth amongst major economies in Asia, outpacing Viet Nam, Indonesia, China, and Malaysia.
We are confident that the country will post a full year economic growth that is close to the 6.0 to 7.0 percent target for 2023.
Major international financial institutions and think tanks, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, [and] ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office, agree. They project that the Philippines will outpace its major regional peers.
In fact, Fitch Ratings recently affirmed the stable outlook for the Philippines. This is on the back of strong growth, gradual fiscal consolidation, reductions in government debt-to-GDP ratio, and a comfortable external position supported by sound economic policies and robust economic reforms.
Labor market conditions remain strong. We have been seeing consistently low levels of unemployment and improving quality of employment and underemployment that has been lessened and employment that has been generated.
Inflation is slowly coming down. The October 2023 inflation slowed down to 4.9 percent from a frighteningly high 6.1 percent in September. We are committed to arresting inflation and maintaining overall price stability through supply-side interventions and demand-side management measures.
This administration has put a favorable business environment at the center of our thrust to promote high-value investments.
Commitment to purposeful reforms are also an enduring feature of Philippine economic policymaking and planning. With the amendments that we have made to the Public Service Act, to Foreign Investments Act, the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, and the Renewable Energy Act, we expect an influx of highly desirable investments in strategic sectors of the economy.
We have also reformed the Philippines’ fiscal incentives structure through the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act to attract both domestic and global firms to invest in strategically important sectors.
Investments in rural areas and highly – advanced and technology-enabled projects and activities are given top priority and, consequently, greater and longer incentives.
Investments in the digital space are also highly prioritized. Incentives are given to projects covering research and development and those adopting advanced digital production technologies such as, for example, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, data analytics, cloud computing, and nanotechnology.
These are complemented by responsive refinements in policies that promote private sector participation in key sectors even as we pursue legislative measures.
We rapidly reformed the country’s public-private partnership (PPP) framework to simplify the approval processes, ensure the viability and bankability of PPP projects, to cut red tape, and pave the way for quality infrastructure development.
These reforms support the Philippines’ massive infrastructure drive. We are prioritizing the implementation of 197 infrastructure flagship projects worth around USD 155 billion with a sharp focus on upgrading physical and digital connectivity, water, agriculture, health, transport, and energy.
In addition, we look forward to the operationalization of the Maharlika Investment Fund – the country’s first-ever sovereign investment fund. It will serve as an additional source and mode of financing for priority projects of the government, including the infrastructure flagship. These projects offer high rates of return and significant socioeconomic impact.
Currently, we have identified about 80 potential infrastructure projects that are financeable through the fund, the Maharlika Investment Fund.
With a solid reform agenda and unabating growth amid headwinds, the Philippines is ready to take off as a leading investment hub in Asia.
A wealth of opportunity awaits you in the Philippines, and we are ready to explore new horizons with your investments in the coming years.
Welcome to the Philippines. Thank you and good morning. [applause]
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