MAKATI CITY— Recognizing the critical contributions of foreign investments toward the Philippines’ economic recovery and expansion, Trade and Industry Secretary Fred Pascual provided insights on the 2023 economic outlook during the UBS Philippines Macro Tour 2023 held on 13 March 2023 at Fairmont Makati. The event enabled investors to assess potential investment opportunities in the Philippine market and establish partnerships and collaborations with various sectors to address investor concerns and formulate a guide on how investors can better engage and participate in the Philippine economy. 

During his speech, Secretary Pascual stated that “The Philippines is on a path toward economic recovery and growth following the COVID-19 pandemic. As President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has said on several occasions, the Philippines is now open for business. Our country’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals and well-crafted structural reforms will serve us well as we confront the challenges of the current tightening of global financial markets and the prevailing inflationary pressures.” 

Due to the recent game-changing economic reforms adopted by the country, inward investments have shown positive signs. DTI’s investment promotion arm, the Board of Investments (BOI), has already approved about PHP414 billion worth of investments as of February 2023. Due to this, the BOI has recently increased its investment target to PHP1.5 trillion. Albeit global developments slowed down other economies, the Philippines has shown robust consumption and GDP growth, which prompted investors’ interest.  

The UBS Philippines Macro Tour 2023 gathered regulators, policymakers, experts, and stakeholders who are capable of guiding investors in navigating through macroeconomic themes on the ground in the Philippines.  

The primary goal of the event is to host Philippine CEO/CFO Forum on an annual basis. The Macro Tour is a staple in its offerings to help its clients navigate through macroeconomic themes and inform them of the current economic conditions of the country. UBS is known for its commitment to strengthening investment banking offerings while staying committed as a trusted advisor by delivering excellence to its clients.  

Secretary Pascual also cited several reasons why the Philippines is an ideal investment location. First is its large population, which reflects a huge potential market. The country’s strategic location makes it an ideal place to set up a regional hub for various businesses, and the government’s continuous work to create an enabling environment where businesses can thrive and prosper. 

Further, the UBS Philippines Macro Tour 2023 facilitated discussions on critical investment topics such as the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP), the Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI)-driven Industrial Policy and Global Value Chain (GVC) priority clusters under DTI, policies on investment promotion, and the establishment of green lanes for Strategic Investments. Likewise, it enabled the DTI, through Secretary Pascual, to communicate the Department’s goal of addressing challenges to the country’s supply chain and the goal of pursuing food security and stable prices of basic necessities and prime commodities. 

Relative to RCEP, Secretary Pascual also mentioned that “When the agreement takes effect in about three months, Philippine exporters gain a market of 15 countries representing nearly 30% of the world’s population, economy, and trade. RCEP gains outweigh the losses. Among others, we need to take advantage of the enhanced trade facilitation provisions that make cross-border trade simpler and faster.” 

The Trade Chief also provided investors with updates regarding trade agreements of the Philippines with other countries such as South Korea, India, and UAE. 

“To update you on other trade agreements, we have concluded our negotiations and are now in the final stages of our FTA with South Korea. We are also looking into entering a potential preferential trade agreement with India and launching negotiations for a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with the United Arab Emirates. Similarly, the Philippines has expressed interest in acceding to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Moreover, we are an active partner in the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework,” added Secretary Pascual. 

In closing, Secretary Pascual emphasized that in the past, the country’s economy was mainly consumption-driven and that the Philippines is now in pursuit of achieving an industry-led economy. Such an economy will facilitate the influx of investments in the country, generate stable, high-quality, and better-paying jobs for Filipinos, and pave the way for the country to achieve shared prosperity for all. 

The event was also attended by Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) President George Barcelon, and other public and private sector representatives. *

Date of release: 14 March 2023