‘PH business confidence highest in ASEAN, No. 3 in world’


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‘PH business confidence highest in ASEAN, No. 3 in world’
The Grant Thornton International Business Report says PH business optimism is the third highest in the world despite a slight drop from last year

MANILA, Philippines – Business optimism is highest in the Philippines among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-states, and third highest in the world, the results of a global survey showed.

Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR), a quarterly global survey of more than 2,600 business leaders round the world, revealed that net 86% of Filipino business leaders – a slight decline of 2 percentage points from last year – “have very bright expectations for the country’s economy in the next 12 months.” 

The findings are based on results released by Punongbayan & Araullo (P&A) an audit, tax, advisory, and outsourcing services firm and Grant Thornton’s member-firm in the Philippines.

The survey further reveals that 56% of Filipino business leaders – up 14% from last year – expect an increase in employment.

However, many still cite a lack of availability of skilled workforce as a business constraint with 37% of local respondents considering it a roadblock to growth.

“Although there’s a slight improvement in our skilled workers compared to last year, the gap between businesses’ hiring appetite and the depth of the local talent pool is still alarming,” says Marivic Españo, chair and CEO of P&A.

She added that the gap is particularly troubling in the face of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) where free flow of skilled labor is foreseen.

“The country needs to cultivate the kind of workforce it needs to stay competitive and prevent our most highly skilled professionals from emigrating for job opportunities abroad,” Españo said.

This year, the proportion of Filipino business leaders who cite shortage of finance as a business constraint has increased significantly, to 27% from from 10% in 2014.

On a positive note, there was an increase in expectations for export (from 26% to 31%), revenue (from 62% to 74%), and profitability (from 56% to 63%).

Global outlook

The IBR also showed that business confidence in the ASEAN region has strengthened, rising to 40% from 23% 3 months earlier. Those anticipating increases in exports increased to 27% from 20%, and those anticipating increases in profitability rose to 38% from 22%.

Among the country’s ASEAN neighbors, Indonesia (68%) was closest to the Philippines, whereas Thailand rebounded from -10 to 36%.

As for the greater Asian region, Japan remains the least optimistic with business confidence falling to a two-year low at -17%. This pessimism is in stark contrast to improving sentiment in China (31%) and India (89%)

Business confidence in the Eurozone climbed sharply in the first quarter, following the introduction of quantitative easing by the European Central Bank despite the uncertainty caused by the Greek elections.

Optimism has increased sharply in some of the Eurozone economies hit hardest by the crisis, including Ireland (92%), Spain (52%) and Italy (32%).

By contrast, business confidence in Eastern Europe has dropped to just 6% with Russian businesses increasingly pessimistic (-6%) in the face of economic sanctions.

US economic optimism dropped over the past quarter and now stands at 43%, although business leaders remain upbeat about the growth prospects of their own operations.

Meanwhile, confidence in Latin America has fallen to an all-time low, driven by Argentina (-38%) and Brazil (-18%). – Rappler.com

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