THE bright economic prospects for the Philippines and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) amid fears of a global slowdown leverage President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s efforts to lure more investments into the country during his participation at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, the leader of the House of Representatives said on Tuesday.
“President Marcos’s participation in the Davos meet this year is timely as favorable economic forecasts for both the Philippines and the ASEAN would serve him in good stead in his effort to secure more investments to allow our country to shake off the effects of the pandemic and protect us from global headwinds,” Speaker Martin Romualdez said in a statement.
At a luncheon hosted for President Marcos’s delegation to WEF, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the government expects a strong full-year gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2022, and around 6.5 percent GDP growth in 2023.
Moreover, Romualdez cited the January 14, 2023 article of Joo-Ok Lee, head of the Regional Agenda for the Asia Pacific region at the WEF, who noted that ASEAN is one of the few bright spots as the global economy continues to stall.
Lee noted that ASEAN economies enjoyed strong growth in 2022 amid a post-Covid-19 surge in activity.
He added that while the global chill will have some effect, overall growth forecasts for 2023 are pegged at 4.4 percent for the Asean-6 (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam).
In addition, Lee said the pandemic prompted a huge update in online trade in the region, such that several ASEAN countries are now leading globally in some sectors of digitalization, including e-commerce retail growth.
According to Lee, the Philippines and Malaysia are the two top countries in this respect, “registering growth of 25 percent and 23 percent respectively per year,” aside from the fact that the Philippines also continues to serve as a steady source of online labor to the rest of the world.
Romualdez, who is part of the President’s official delegation to WEF, said “taken together, these factors make a compelling case to showcase the Philippines as an investment hub during President Marcos’s interaction with global industry and government leaders at the World Economic Forum.”
President Marcos is the lone ASEAN leader, and one of the only two leaders from Asia, attending this year’s forum.
According to the Speaker, the same conditions also favor Marcos’s plan to soft-launch the Maharlika Investment Fund at the WEF.
Romualdez is the principal author of House Bill (HB) No. 6608, which the chamber approved by an overwhelming majority on December 16, 2022, creating the sovereign wealth fund to help Marcos keep the country on the high-growth path.
The MIF, according to the Speaker, will adhere to the best practices and the principles of transparency and accountability.
Apart from members of the Cabinet, seven of the country’s top businessmen are in Davos to support Marcos’s inaugural participation in the WEF 2023 meet.
Earlier, the President noted that normally, the biggest deals are accomplished on the sidelines of international forum when parties engage in pull-away interactions to discuss possible trade or investment partnerships.
The second day of the WEF is scheduled to kick off Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. in Switzerland (around 4:30 p.m. PH time) with the speech of Switzerland’s President Alain Berset.
Among the key activities Marcos is scheduled to join includes the Philippines Country Strategy Dialog with the economic team, as well as separate bilateral meetings with Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and with officials of the mining and commodities trading giant Glencore.
Later Tuesday, Marcos and First Lady Louise Araneta-Marcos were scheduled to join WEF founder and Chair Dr. Klaus Schwab and his wife Hilde in a private dinner.
It was Dr. Schwab who invited President Marcos to attend the WEF during a breakfast meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN summits in Cambodia.