PBBM seeks trade curbs easing amid price spikes

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PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. called for the easing of trade restrictions imposed by some countries amid the spike in global prices of food and energy last year to foster greater global economic growth.

Marcos made the appeal during opening remarks during the Country Strategy Dialogue at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

The President said such protectionist policies are hampering the global movements of goods.

“We are mindful that while protectionist policies may be appealing, even necessary in the short term, there will ultimately be no long-term winners…We join the call for all governments to unwind any trade restrictions and reinforce our commitment to the World Trade Organization [WTO] reform,” Marcos said.

Last year, some countries like India, Malaysia and Indonesia implemented export bans for some agricultural products after the Ukraine-Russia conflict caused international food and energy prices to soar.

The supply issues caused inflation to accelerate in many countries, including the Philippines, prompting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to forecast global economic growth this year will slow down to 2.7 percent from 3.2 percent last year.

Marcos, however, said he is optimistic the Philippines can exceed the projected economic growth rate by the IMF thanks to the country’s “strong macroeconomic fundamentals, fiscal discipline, structural reforms and liberalization of key sectors.”

He also noted the government already implemented measures to “cushion the impact” of high inflation to vulnerable sectors.

“We project our economy to grow by around 7.0 percent in 2023,” Marcos said.

To further ensure the country will meet its growth target, the government will provide support to businesses, particularly, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and push for the digitalization in the government operations, as well as  providing the necessary education and training to the country’s workforce.

Also part of the government’s long-term economic plan is the strengthening of public-private partnerships (PPPs) and enhancing health systems and social protection.