US, Australia on PH: Businesses want 'predictability'
MANILA, Philippines – The United States and Australia both stressed the need for "predictability" to attract businesses to the Philippines as President Rodrigo Duterte fuels what Washington describes as a "climate of uncertainty" in the country.
In a roundtable discussion with Filipino journalists, US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel said, "Markets, corporate managers, don't like uncertainty."
"They like constancy, they like predictability. They also put a great value on rule of law and respect for and strengthening of institutions. That directly connects to the enforceability of contracts, the reliability of partnerships, and so on," Russel told reporters on Monday, October 24.
Russel explained that the Philippines, on one hand, has a "major asset" in its "tremendous workforce, great English language skills, and the close connection" with the US.
"But if there is continued uncertainty about the direction that the country will go in, if there is extended violence as an unintended byproduct of the crackdown on drug use, then yeah, I think that these will be factors that international businesspeople not only in the United States, not only Japan, but businesses worldwide will take into account," said Russel, the US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
In an interview on ANC on Monday, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely echoed similar thoughts.
She was responding to a question on what could change her positive outlook toward doing business in the Philippines.
'Investors look for certainty'
"I think what investors look for is certainty, predictability, transparent application of laws and regulations, and of course the capacity to make a profit and to have access to a qualified and enthusiastic workforce," Gorely said.
"If any of those things come under pressure or are threatened, then they may reconsider their decisions. But I certainly haven't seen companies going to that extreme at this stage," she added.
For now, Gorely said Australian business process outsourcing (BPO) companies have been expanding to the Philippines. "Virtually every week, there's news of a new Australian company coming here to set up its business process outsourcing operations here," she said.
Many Australian companies, however, have asked Gorely about what some of Duterte's statements "might mean for them."
"My response is always that the economic fundamentals of the Philippines are very strong. It remains an excellent destination for investments," she said, citing the 10-point economic plan crafted by Duterte's economic managers.
"So my outlook at this stage is a very positive one still," she said.
Their comments come as the President continues to issue statements against the US. During his recent trip to China, Duterte announced his economic and military "separation" from the US – a statement that he later clarified does not mean a "severance of ties."
On Tuesday, Duterte told foreign businesses worried about his war on drugs to "pack up and leave." He said, "We will recover, I assure you." – Rappler.com