Aquino urges ASEAN investments amid economic upswing
MANILA, Philippines – Now is a perfect time to invest in the Philippines.
This was the message of President Benigno Aquino III to the ASEAN Business Club on Wednesday, May 21, represented by some of the region's most wealthy and powerful businessmen.
"With the Philippines on an economic upswing and the integration of ASEAN on the horizon, we are poised on the edge of even more meaningful progress – progress that we can realize today, in this visit, and in what I trust will be many more visits to come," he said.
Aquino hailed the economic progress achieved by the Philippines in recent years, which he said is "a collective achievement" between his administration's drive for good governance and the people's desire for reform.
Against this backdrop, Aquino said now is the best time "to expand connections" and "forge stronger relationships" with Filipino businessmen.
"Together, we Filipinos are spurring a virtuous cycle of empowerment and growth: Whereas more people are empowered to take hold of opportunities opening up in society, the engines of growth then shift constantly towards higher and higher gears," he said.
"This is the context in which your visit occurs: A government fully committed to service, a revitalized economy, and a people with renewed optimism and desire to take part in nation-building now and in the future – towards creating opportunities for all."
Since he became president, Aquino said the Philippines has transformed from the "Sick Man in Asia" to "Asia's bright spot." The shift to "a viable destination for investments and tourists," he said, has benefitted Filipinos.
"Whether it is cutting down red tape to allow businesses to set up shop more easily, or plugging leaks and instituting reforms in our budgeting process – whether it is making massive investments in our people through skills training and education, health, and social services, or enhancing the state of national infrastructure, every single step government has taken has been for the welfare of the Filipino people," he said.
Among the achievements he hailed as a result of his administration include:
- the Philippines "buck[ing] the global trend": constantly high economic growth that have surpassed targets
- IT-BPO sector as strong driver of growth
- resurgence in manufacturing due to robust domestic demand
- credit rating upgrades from all 3 major credit rating agencies
- continued public support for Aquino's mandate, shown by solid backing to pass politically complex legislation
"Everything that had to be done seemed to be so much impossible. That was when we started. Today, when we are confronted with problems, we tend to see the opportunities that those problems present before us," he said.
Nearly 50 businessmen were in attendance, 32 of them from Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia or Thailand. The rest were from the Philippines.
Here for the World Economic Forum in East Asia (WEF-EA) being hosted for the first time by the Philippines, many of the club members are owners of their countries' largest businesses and represent ASEAN multinational companies. – Rappler.com