The 3rd Joint Economic Briefing continues push towards economic prosperity

13.06.17 AHK News

MAKATI CITY – The German Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI) along with the British Chamber, French Chamber, Italian Chamber, Spanish Chamber, Nordic Chamber, and the Philippine-Netherlands Business Council, hosted the 3rd Joint Economic Briefing in Dusit Thani Manila last Thursday, 8 June 2017. The event attracted more than a hundred guests with the majority consisting of senior executives of local and foreign investors from different European business communities. The briefing focused on the Sustainability of Foreign Direct Investment in the Philippines with the panel consisting of World Bank Group Senior Private Sector Specialist Farida Lasida Adji, Asia Development Bank (ADB) Regional Cooperation and Integration Technical Advisor Arjun Goswami, Undersecretary of Finance for the Department of Transportation Garry de Guzman, and Employment and Policy Support Director Dominique “Nikki” Tutay of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). The discussion was moderated by Dr. Bernie Villegas an economist from University of Asia and the Pacific.

Each speaker discussed different key aspects regarding Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Philippines. Ms. Adji presented sustainability of FDI in the context with the World Bank’s work by identifying the sources of the lack of economic growth, as well as highlighting how FDI’s potential can be maximized within the Philippines. Mr. Goswami introduced ADB’s Regional Cooperation and Integration (RCI) operational plan, tackled on the importance of the FDI facilitation in ADB’s RCI agenda, and discussed the role of the Government & the ASEAN play in combating FDI challenges. Usec. De Guzman of DOTr reiterated the importance of investment to facilitate growth, introduced the various ongoing and future railway, seaport, and mass transport system projects of the DOTr, and elaborated on DOTr internal improvements to provide faster public service. Finally, Director Tutay from DOLE updated guests on laws they ought to be aware of in the Philippines (especially the misconceptions on contractualization through Department Order no. 174, series of 2017 and the Labor Law Compliance System) as well as ways where businesses can help in sustaining decent jobs in the country.

Dr. Villegas concluded the discussion with his insights regarding the key points of each speaker in addition to prescribing his solutions to various challenges such as making certain politicians cooperate and speak to one another.

The briefing sparked an interesting discussion as questions on different aspects of the briefing were raised by the audience. A guest asked what can be done in both short and long terms to improve FDI considering the constraints provided by the Philippine constitution. Mr. Goswami responded by stating that in the short term, the Philippines can look into Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as they are able to invest as quickly as FDI quickly. In terms of medium to long term solutions, the Philippines can look into skills development. Another guest commented that one of the most important aspects to develop in the Philippines is a high value of integrity due to corruption, respect for human rights and honoring the rule of law. Dr. Villegas responded that bringing in foreign investors opens the country’s ability to respect other cultures and learn from different senses of integrity. Another participant asked DOTr Usec. De Guzman to elaborate on the national railway plans considering that it may affect private properties. The Undersecretary responded that they are now reviewing deeds, discussing on who has the “right of way” and working on a new law. A new law which allows the government to deposit the fair market value to take possession of the property. Once the government has the permit to enter the property, they can start preparing the details and the interior design of the railway.

Another question raised was focused on trainings offered by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). That if the legal minimum age to work is fifteen years old, why is the minimum age required by TESDA set at eighteen years old? Dr. Villegas responded by explaining that there is a preference of a high school degree which one cannot at the age of fifteen. This is why the K-12 system is a perfect arrangement to involve grades eleven and twelve students to on-the-job training programs.

The conclusion of the 3rd Joint Economic Briefing proves the future continues to look bright for economic trade between the Philippines and various European and Philippine companies as the event allowed the guests to better understand the sustainability of FDI in the country. It is important to note that this bright future will be within our reach as long as, in the words of Mr. Goswami, everyone does not sell this country short, as the common man already has substantial integrity.

GPCCI would like to thank our Major Sponsors: BDO, Continental, Kittleson & Carpo Consulting, Leechiu Property Consultants, North Port, Filinvest Parkway Corporate Center, and Philippine Retirement Authority. Our Minor Sponsor, Oxford Business Group. And our Media Partners: ANC, Bloomberg Philippines, Business Mirror, and Philippine Primer Media.