FINANCE Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has called on American investors to take part in the Philippines’ resurgence as Asia’s next powerhouse as he assured them that the country’s economy continues to “gather steam” and is poised to grow by seven to eight percent in the near term.
Dominguez issued the call as he cited the “strong and vital” longstanding partnership between American and Filipino businesses, which, he said, is “framed by the deep friendship between our two societies.” Far from being an “aberration,” Dominguez said the country’s “promising position” as a budding economic powerhouse is the result of 76 consecutive quarters or 19 years of uninterrupted expansion, with the economy’s growth rate steady at 6 percent or better over the past 11 quarters.
“With increased investment flows, tax reform and massive investments in modernizing our infrastructure, we will definitely do better this year and the next,” Dominguez said.
In the last quarter of 2017, he said that the country’s economic growth was fueled by an increase of 14.3 percent in public spending, which, on top of economic investments, also included additional funding to improve access to education and health as well as rehabilitation assistance for victims of calamities.
“Today is a very important time for the Philippine economy. We are on the cusp of rapid expansion and ready to evolve our economy towards investments-led growth. The Philippines is now the third fastest growing economy in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Dominguez at the Philippine-US Society Business forum held recently at The Peninsula Manila Hotel.
The Philippine economy grew 6.7 percent in 2017, just behind China’s 6.9 percent and Vietnam’s 6.8 percent.
“We have come a long way from being called ‘The Sick Man of Asia’ to becoming ‘Asia’s Rising Star’ for investments. We intend to perform even better as an engine of growth for this part of the world,” he added.
As Dominguez spelled out the vibrant developments in the Philippine economy and the programs that the Duterte administration is putting in place to sustain high growth, he told the American investors at the forum to “look at the business opportunities with this context in mind.”
“I invite you to be part of Asia’s next economic powerhouse,” he said.
On the country’s economic outlook, Dominguez said exports expanded significantly over the previous year, while growth on the supply side indicate a broadening base for the economy.
The industrial sector grew 7.3 percent last year, leading the expansion in the economic sectors, while the main growth driver, services—expanded by 6.8 percent.
Meanwhile, the agricultural sector grew by 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the -1.3 percent decline for the same period the preceding year, Dominguez said.
“Improved investment inflows ensure growth in this sector that provide jobs and multiplies opportunities,” the finance chief said.
With the series of upgrades in the Philippines’ credit ratings, Dominguez said investor sentiment on the Philippine economic outlook significantly improved with new foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows increasing 20.1 percent in the first 11 months of 2017 to $8.7 billion, which is an improvement over the projected $8 billion for the whole year. (PR)