The Manila Times Roundtable with with NordCham, ICCPI and BCCP Executive Directors
On January 13th, a roundtable discussion took place at the Manila Times office - hosted by The Manila Times´ Chairman and CEO Dante "Klink" Ang II, with 3 foreign chambers representatives, including NordCham´s Executive Director, Jesper Svenningsen - about the viewpoints on Philippines' economic recovery, the proposed wealth fund, and the business climate for Foreign Direct Investments.
The general point of view was that the British Chamber, the Italian Chamber, and the Nordic Chamber all see great potential in the Philippines, especially after the passing of bills like the the Public Services Act, the Foreign Investments Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act in 2022, the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act in 2021 and the ruling that foreign ownership in renewable energy can be 100%.
The talk also included the inflation, war in Ukraine causing increased fuel prices, and supply chain challenges – all putting a highly consumer-driven country like the Philippines under some extra pressure. The expectation from the main finance institutions is still that the Philippines will outperform all other countries in Asia on growth. Important for future success is the GSP+ with the EU (European Union) to be continued, and for the work on an EU FTA and the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) with APEC to get started.
All representatives agreed that President Marcos Jr has opened the Philippines to the rest of the world with his many important visits, and the appointment of strong technocrats in the cabinet.
There is still a need for both ensuring electricity supply and lowering the prices, as well as reducing red tape and corruption. The first is related to more renewable energy and the latter to the e-governance and e-government improvements, which were mentioned during the first SONA of President Marcus Jr. Mr Svenningsen noted that the Nordic nations are all leaders in e-governance and e-government processes, and they would be incredibly happy to share their expertise with the Philippine government. According to him, President Marcos' speech on promoting e-government is something NordCham look forward to seeing implemented, as it will increase transparency and reduce red tape significantly.
All agree that the Maharlika Wealth Fund (MWF) could be beneficial to the Philippines if it is properly implemented and managed. Making it official while in Davos was considered a good idea.
NordCham has high focus on Sustainability, including Climate Change, and Mr Svenningsen mentioned that the impact of climate change on the Philippines could be another important topic that President Marcos brings up in Davos. The Philippines is one of the countries which is the most adversely affected by climate change and that many countries have made financial commitments to assist those countries most vulnerable to climate change. He believes that the Philippines ought to start a conversation about it and that it is acceptable to ask for it.