Bilateral Trade, Investment, and a “View from Washington”
Makati City, Philippines – A centerpiece of the program was the February 20 Business Forum, which included briefings by Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Lopez, Department of Budget and Management Secretary Diokno and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Managing Director Dakila. Officials projected continued GDP annual growth rates nearing seven percent and assured continuation of sound macro-economic policies. The budget presentation highlighted priorities in infrastructure improvements, the administration’s signature economic initiative.
The Business Forum, organized with the Philippines-United States Business Council, Makati Business Club and American Chamber of Commerce of the Philipines, served as a platform for presentations by attorneys Leo Canseco (USPS Director) and SGV’s Jose Luis Ferrer on tax reform legislation in both countries, and what that means for business and investment opportunities.
Amb Negroponte presented a “View from Washington” that offered an analysis of the Trump administration’s economic, foreign and security policies and priorities, the impact on growth, investment and trade, steps toward reaching agreement on a possible FTA, and areas for bilateral cooperation on transnational issues.
A blue ribbon panel discussion led by former Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. and including Co-chair Manuel V. Pangilinan and former Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo provided directors with a candid and insightful private sector perspective on the Philippine economy and areas for US-Philippine cooperation.
In separate meetings with current Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez and NEDA Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, directors took the opportunity to raise business concerns, including taxation on companies in economic zones. The secretaries provided comprehensive briefings on administration policies aimed at reducing poverty to 14 percent by 2022, keeping inflation at “modest” levels, lowering debt, increasing tourism, sustaining strong GDP growth, and promoting infrastructure investment and tax reform.
Secretary Dominguez cited opportunities for the U.S. in the next level of services, marketing, robotics and Big Data. Trade and investment statistics showed that the U.S. lags behind many of the Philippines’ Asian partners, including within ASEAN.
Director Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala added perspectives from the Philippine private sector, pointing to areas of strength in the Philippine economy.