Past Economic Forums


Economic Forum with Mr. Enrico Cruz

Mr. Enrico Cruz of Deutsche Bank welcomed everyone in the New Year and gave his traditional forecast for the year ahead at the German Club Manila. The Deutsche Bank AG Manila Chief Country Officer and Head of Corporate Banking and Securities first presented an economic review of the past year and proceeded with an outlook for 2016.

Cruz started out by giving a short recap of the global economic developments in 2015. Hereby he focused on the US, the European and the emerging markets. He explained that the economic growth of the Eurozone in the past year was quite a surprise, whereas the US and emerging markets disappointed with a decline in growth rates. The inflation in developed markets also remained very low, often close to zero.

The growth rate in the Philippines however, did much better. Even though it fell behind the expectations of 6.5 percent it reached a rate close to 6 percent. ‘The inflation was with 1.4 percent the lowest we have seen in the Philippines’, Mr. Cruz explains. With the right level of growth and inflation, the economy in the Philippines reached an all-time high.

Mr. Cruz went on with his forecast for 2016. For certain countries in Latin America, Europe and Russia the expected GDP growth rates are rather flat or even negative. The US will see a moderate growth between one and three percent. China’s growth is gradually slowing down but will stay above five percent. The global inflation remains near the 40-year low, but is expected to rise gradually in 2016 as some of the forces keeping it low are fading.

Deutsche Bank’s outlook for the Philippines appears to be more positive. Though a severe drop in agricultural output due to a strengthening of the climatic phenomenon El Nino is a downside risk to growth, remittance inflows and rapid growth in the BPO industry help sustain a robust domestic activity at least in the next two years.

The Economic Forum with Mr. Cruz showed how the Philippine Economy is still thriving while other economies in Asia and also in Europe are fighting for better growth rates or a proper inflation rate. According to Deutsche Bank this state will not change within 2016. The upcoming elections might bring political and social changes, but the economy is continuing to gain in strength and stability.


Economic Forum with Mr. Peter Wallace

On November 12, the German Club Manila was packed with around 90 guests as the Chairman of the Wallace Business Forum, Mr. Peter Wallace, shed some light on the Philippine Presidential Elections 2016 by giving insight on what to expect from each candidate running for the highest position in the country.

According to Wallace, some of the key issues that need to be tackled include insufficient jobs, inefficient mass transportation as well as the fact that no tax evader/smuggler is in jail, which shows that more attention needs to be paid to implementing discipline.

But who will be the Philippine’s new leader to address these issues and maximize the country’s potential?

Will it be Senator Grace Poe, promoting a clean and honest government, but being confronted by critics with issues such as her citizenship and lack of experience?

Or will it be former Makati Mayor and current Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, who appeals to the grassroots such as boy scouts, previously homeless, and OFWs, but who faces numerous accusations of corruption?

Then there is Mar Roxas, with continuously improving ratings and no real scandal so far. However, Wallace voiced the opinion that Roxas is also said to be a “technocrat pretending to be pro-masses”.

Furthermore, there is increasingly popular candidate Rody Duterte, known for being tough against crime and striving for federalism as the Mayor of Davao City. “But the question is”, according to Wallace, “if he could modify his rough attitude”. Another aspect surrounding Duterte is his indecisiveness to actually run for presidency.

Lastly, we have sharp-minded Miriam Santiago, whose candidacy is still controversial due to her claim of beating stage 4 cancer without giving medical proof.

The Economic Forum with Peter Wallace showed that there are pros and cons for every candidate. As of now, all we know is that a heated and exciting election is lying ahead of us. Social media is as active as ever before, posing as an interactive platform for everybody to share their thoughts and opinions.

For the picture gallery, please click here.


Economic Forum with Ms. Jacqueline van den Ende

The Economic Forum of September 22, 2015, once again filled the German Club. Ms. Jacqueline van den Ende presented an overview of the Philippine real estate industry.

At the beginning of her lecture, Ms. van den Ende, who is the founder and CEO of Lamudi Philippines, gave a brief overview of her company. Lamudi, which was founded in 2014, is the leading online real estate portal for emerging markets.

Ms. van den Ende put the focus on the real estate industry in the Philippines, which is a top contributor to GDP growth (services sector, including real estate, contributed 3.1% of total 5.6% growth).  

In the residential field there is a temporary mismatch between demand and supply, and an additional number of around 100,000 new units alone in the Metro Manila area are being constructed until 2020.

The commercial area is also dealing with huge issues, as there is low vacancy in general and the lack of space is driving up rents, especially in Makati. Manila is one of the most competitive markets in terms of office rents. This development leads to the creation of new hubs outside the established CBDs and especially new BPO centers in the provinces.

The government has ambitious tourism goals. Lots of new hotel rooms are being developed in the Metro Manila area. But the occupancy rates are decreasing, due to the increasing number of new hotels.

Ms. van den Ende concluded her speech with the key challenges for the real estate industry of the Philippines. The traffic and the insufficient capacity of the industry are main aspects, which have to be improved to attract more foreign investors to the country. Also the establishment of an diversified economy will be a challenge for the future.

After her presentation Ms. van den Ende opened the discussion round and answered several questions of the audience. She was supported by Rodel Ambas, Head of Research + Content from Lamudi Philippines.


Economic Forum with Mr Joseph Zveglich.

Developing Asia's Outlook: Threats from the West

This years 7th Economic forum was again a great success and the premises of the German Club in Manila were once again filled to capacity.

The guest speaker of this month’ Economic forum was Mr. Joseph Zveglich. He is the Director of the Macroeconomics Research Division of the Asian Depelopment Bank and responsible for the Asian Development Outlook, the bank’s flagship publication.

Mr. Claus Sudhoff, President of the German Club and of CS Garment, opened the evening. A minute of silence was held to pay respect for Mr Jürgen Warnke from El Rio y Mar. The  founding GPCCI Member and former Director passed away on August 9.

Mr Zveglich was introduced by Dr. Andree Buhl, the new Comercial Councilor of the German Embassy.

The audience of the 7th Economic forum, among them Mr. Washington SyCip and the former Philippine Ambassador to Germany, Ms. Delia Domingo-Albert, had the pleasure of listening to Mr. Zveglich’s talk on the implications of the European Debt Crisis to Asia. After Mr. Zveglich gave an introduction and pointed out the current economic situation in Asia, he outlined that the European Debt Crisis will especially affect the region thorugh the trade channel. However, in the end Mr. Zveglich came to the conclusion that even though the European Debt Crisis is a downside risk to the growth outlook of developing Asia, the region is now in a much stronger position to weather a crisis.

Following the talk of Mr. Zveglich, an intense Q&A led into a sophisticated discussion which did not only focus on the implications of the European Debt Crisis to Asia, but also questioned the curent economic policies of the People’s Republic of China and the impact it may have on developing Asia and especially on the Philippines. Especially in regard to the devaluation of  China’s Renminbi the near future will show if that will even have a greater impact on developing Asia than the current European debt crisis.

After the discussion, Mr. Gerhard Zimmer, Chairman of the House Committee at the German Club, took the opportunity to introduce the club’s new General Manager, Mr. Urs Wuethrich.


Economic Forum with Dr. Benito Pacheco

Frequently Asked Questions on Safety of Philippine Structures during Earthquakes and Related Concerns in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management

Dr. Benito M. Pacheco, a professor of Civil Engineering and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of the Philippines - Diliman shed light on one of Greater Manila's biggest concerns at the moment. As the guest speaker at the Economic Forum on 18 June 2015, he gave an insightful lecture regarding the safety of PH structures during earthquakes. After the recent headlines about the Valley Fault System Atlas by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, the German Club was filled almost to capacity. Mr. Pacheco answered 10 of the most frequently asked questions regarding the topic. He explained the difference between the magnitude and the intensity of an earthquake and the different events that may occur during and after an earthquake, such as aftershocks and the liquefaction of land near bodies of water. Also elaborated during the lecture was the safety of the structures built along and near the fault line, wherein Dr. Pacheco gave answers to questions regarding the safest spot in a building during a quake and who is responsible for the structural integrity of a building. An insightful Q&A followed, where guests - among them GPCCI Honorary Member Mr. Oscar M. Lopez - took the chance to get first-hand information from an expert on Disaster Risk Management on how to better prepare their businesses for natural disasters such as the big quake.


Economic Forum with Atty. Ricardo R. Blancaflor

Intellectual Property Rights: How to Effectively Protect and Grow your Trademarks

For this years fifth Economic Forum, the audience in the German Club had yet again the pleasure of listening to another honourable guest speaker. Having been selected one of the 50 most influential persons in Asia by “Managing Intellectual Property” magazine in 2012, Attorney Ricardo R. Blancaflor delivered a worthwile insight on the following topic: “Intellectual Property Rights: How to Effectively Protect and Grow your Trademarks”.

Mr. Blancaflor gained imposing first hand insights through his designation as the head of the Philippine Intellectual Properties Office for several years. He succeeded implementing significant amendments of the Intellectual Property Code as well as bolder initiatives such as the modernization of IT infrastructure for accurate, faster and transparent processing of IP applications.

After a brief introduction on the history of patents and trademarks in the Philippines, Mr. Blancaflor quickly moved on to the achievements of the Philippine government. In this regard, the adoption of international standards like the WIPO, an industrial property automation system, launching campaigns on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) as well as the integration of member agencies into the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights led to the removal of the Philippines from the USTR 301 watch list.

In a second block, specific steps of protecting and enforcing IPRs were exemplified. Such measures include the establishment of Special Commercial Courts, which have the authority to act on applications for the issuance of writs of search and seizure for violations of the IP Code. Worth highlighting is the order of destruction as a severe step to minimize the influence of counterfeits in Philippine markets.

Looking at the sustained actions the Philippine Government has undertaken to improve Intellectual Property Rights protection, Mr. Blancaflor faces the remaining challenges in a positive point of view.


Economic Forum with Dr. Dan C. Lachica

The Philippine Electronics Industry and its Contribution to the Economic Partnership with German Businesses

The guest speaker of this month’s Economic Forum was the new Honorary Member of GPCCI, Dr. Dan C. Lachica. He is the President of Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc. (SEIPI). The association represents the country’s electronics industry, which makes up for $25.83B or 42% of total Philippine exports, and directly and indirectly employs 2.7 Mio people.

Dr. Lachica gave a discourse regarding these contributions of the Philippine electronics industry to the economy as well as an outlook on the different challenges the industry has to face.

He highlighted that the electronics sector is by far the most important industry in the Philippines. The market is consistent - with exports growing steadily and imports decreasing.

Dr. Lachica also explained the commitment of the industry in training and education. SEIPI has a partnership with TESDA and participates in the K to 12 Project. He pointed out that the specialized training has a high importance for a successful future of the industry.

A dedicated and insightful Q&A followed after the presentation. Dr. Lachica underlined that local companies, which are often SMEs, are increasing their share in the growing market.


Economic Forum with Mr. Jaime "Jim" Ayala

„Empowering communities through Solar Energy“, that is the main goal of last week’s speaker Mr. Jaime “Jim” Ayala at the Economic Forum held by the German Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry in collaboration with the German Embassy at the German Club Manila.

The Princeton University and Harvard Business School Graduate started his presentation by introducing the vision of his back in 2010 founded social enterprise Hybrid Social Solutions which is to end poverty and spur development by enabling all communities to access basic development-oriented goods and services.

There are more than 20 Million Filipinos who are living in off-grid areas meaning they don’t have access to electricity. The negative consequences are obvious since we all know how important it is for our daily life to work longer after dark or to even just charge our phones. Moreover that, basic needs like security, healthcare or solid hygiene conditions are not least also depending on continuous energy availability. People who don’t have these possibilities are “stock in the poverty trap” according to Mr. Ayala. Thus, there is not only the lack of access to basic goods but also to economic opportunities like Financing, Markets or Employment.

In order to build a bridge between civilization and development for these off-grid areas, Mr. Ayala has made it his and the company’s goal to provide those regions with sustainable solar energy. Besides from the main advantage that you don’t have to wait for grid, solar energy further helps the people to save money and improve their living conditions. It helps the families to prevent injuries like kerosene ingestions or fire injuries on one side, and to become more productive and efficient on the other side. Appropriate solar technology makes chores easier as it helps the farmer to scare pests off crops while the fishermen get to attract fish at night.

Having an impact on community institutions is another mission of Hybrid Social Solutions and the Solar Energy Foundation. Whether it is about providing a Solar Street Light or installing a whole Solar Powered Clinic the main goal is always the same: Catalyzing rural development to empower Filipinos achieving their potentials.


Economic Forum with Mr. Peter Kompalla

The conception and advantages of DIHK


Since the beginning of the year 2015, GPCCI has officially became an AHK member of the DIHK. DIHK (Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag), the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, is the central organization for 80 Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Germany and 125 German Chambers abroad. DIHK functions as GPCCI’s parent organization, representing the interests of businesses vis-à-vis national and European government, trade associations and employer’s federations.

The new Executive Director, Mr. Peter Kompalla highlighted the advantages of being a part of DIHK Network. He illustrated the German Chamber Network from their beginning up to a view in the future for the GPCCI as a member of this network. The Chamber started by group of merchants in Nürnberg, Germany and they had the idea to implement policies to have a common representation of their interests. These vision and mission are carried over in the chamber network.


Economic Forum with Mr. Enrico Cruz

Global Economic Outlook for 2015


New year 2015 shined like fireworks in a night sky of uncertainties. 2014 is gone with the wind and we are now looking forward to what these uncertainties would bring to us this 2015. Last year left some of us puzzled and surprised about environmental, social, economic and political issues that happened. One of the issues we faced before the year ended was the falling oil prices in the market which favored a lot of consumers and motorists. Several considered this as a Christmas present but for some, especially those in the Public Transportation Service, it is something they did not take positively. Continuous fall of oil prices will also result not only to fall of consumer goods prices but also decrease in public transportation fares.

Last 22 January 2015, GPCCI spearheaded an Economic Forum at Döhle Haus Manila. The guest speaker of the forum was Mr. Enrico Cruz of Deutsche Bank, who regularly delivers his speech yearly about Global Economic Outlook for the year. The speech started about 2014 recap where he highlighted some facts like: collapse of oil prices as supply rose and strengthening of USD, US growth momentum in a year of disappointing overall growth, PSE index reaching new highs, Peso’s resiliency than other SEA currencies supported by BPO industry and ample reserves, and recent monetary tightening by the BSP. 


Economic Forum with Dr. Johnny B. Sinon

Health is wealth: Overview of Ebola virus and other infectious diseases


As Mahatma Gandhi has put it, “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”

The forum last 20 November 2014 was all about the prominent global concern about the Ebola virus and other infectious diseases that all of us, and especially the business community, have to keep a keen eye on. 
Mr. Detlev von Ramm, 1st Vice President and Treasurer of GPCCI, opened the forum by briefly explaining the economic impacts of the Ebola virus. The audience was enlightened that the outbreak of the Ebola disease is, without doubt, a humanitarian emergency. Its primary cost is the loss of thousands of lives and human suffering. Beyond that, however, the gradual spreading of the virus has significant economic impacts, both on the countries affected as well as on their neighbors.

To illustrate: a recent World Bank report estimates the short-term impact on the economies of the worst affected West African countries in terms of forgone GDP at a total of 359 million US dollars (approx. 302 million euros). According to the assessment, if the virus is not contained, these estimates could rise to a total of 809 million US dollars (approx. 683 million euros) next year.

Remarkably, the most significant economic impact does not directly result from the disease itself, but is the consequence of so-called “aversion behavior” – that is the alteration of peoples’ behavior associated with fear of contagion. In this respect, the current Ebola outbreak is in line with recent epidemic history, such as SARS and H1N1, where behavioral effects were responsible for as much as 80-90% of the total economic impact.

The forum was led by Dr. Johnny B. Sinon, who is theHead of Health Hub - Corporate Health & Wellness Centre in Makati Medical Center, one of the top medical research and training facilities in Asia; in addition to being one of the Philippines' premier hospitals. Dr. Sinon is concurrently a Medical Director of International SOS (Phils.) Inc more