18 December 2020 via Recorded Message


A pleasant day to all! We hope everyone is keeping themselves safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thank you for attending this event in line with our new marketing brand campaign—the “MAKE IT HAPPEN IN THE PHILIPPINES”—to promote our country as an attractive and reliable destination for investments. In particular, we want to highlight our country’s competencies on highly specialized electronics sub-sectors while also promoting our Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS).

Our two nations share a long history of trade, culture, and economic ties. In 2019, the US was the Philippines’ 3rd major trading partner, top export market, and 4th top import supplier. Bilateral trade between the Philippines and US last year amounted to US$19.6B, higher than the US$18.7B in 2018. Moreover, our balance of trade in that period was at a positive US$3.49B, higher than the previous year’s US$2.57B.

Further, the US was our 6th top partner in approved investments in 2019 with US$226.45M. In the first quarter of this year, you were already our 2nd top partner with US$112.98M.

Prior to the pandemic, our country established very strong economic fundamentals. We were growing at an average of 6.6% over the period 2016 to 2019, and we were the 3rd fastest growing economy in Asia and 2nd in the ASEAN region. In 2019, our per capita GDP was projected to breach the US$4,000-mark and we were expected to become an upper-middle income country by 2020 if COVID-19 had not happened. 

Our astute monetary policy enabled us to have low and stable inflation rates averaging at 2.5% in 2019. Last year, we had a strong fiscal position, whereby we achieved highest revenues and lowest debt as shares of GDP. We also had among our lowest unemployment rate at 5% level in 2019, and we even received the highest ever credit ratings in the range of BBB+ to A- from credit ratings agencies.

Our strong growth was supported by the resurgence in our manufacturing sector, the average value added growing by almost 34% for the five-year period of 2010-2014 to 2015-2019. The manufacturing sector nearly accounted for 20% of the Philippine economy and our total merchandise exports were on an uptrend.

However, due to the global pandemic, the Philippines registered its first economic contraction in two decades in the first quarter of 2020. But we are now seeing improvement as our GDP growth rate improved from negative 16.5% in the 2nd quarter of this year to negative 11.5% in the 3rd quarter.

Our export performance, after dropping by half in April of this year, is already better than last year, at positive 2% growth rate by September, driven by increase in the export of copper and other mineral products, chemicals, and electronic products. Furthermore, our Net Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) went up from 41% as of July to 47% last August, and this has been growing for four consecutive months.

The investment approvals registered by the Philippine Board of Investments (BOI) is on track to hit Php1T for the year, the second highest mark in the agency’s history. For the first three quarters of 2020, investment approvals already reached over US$15B.

Despite the setbacks and challenges brought about by the pandemic, the Philippines still remains a conducive place to do business and is considered one of the top emerging economies and countries for investments. Reputed business magazine The Economist ranked the country as the 6th emerging economy with high financial strength. CEOWorld Magazine placed the Philippines within the top ten countries to invest in post-COVID. Both the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) also predict a good economic recovery for the country, with forecasts of 6.2% to 6.8% respectively by 2021. 

Hence, we are working on rebuilding the economy’s robust growth at the same level, if not higher than the pre-COVID levels.

The Philippines offers a domestic market of 110M people and access to an ASEAN market that is more than 600M people. Our country also has access to key markets through our Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+). We are also favored by your country’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

The recent conclusion of the regional mega free trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), is further expected to strengthen the Philippine advantage. This agreement signals a renewed vow on a rules-based system for trade and investments in the region with key trade partners that account for 30% of the world’s GDP and population, as well as 28% of global trade.

Meanwhile, our labor force stands at 49M and we produce 750,000 annual graduates with wage rates among the most stable in the region. Further, the increase of manufacturing cost in the Philippines is more stable compared to neighboring ASEAN countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia.

With these in mind, the Philippines offers itself as a strategic partner in services with its large, young, educated, and tech-savvy population. This is a resource that will be critical in responding to the challenges and opportunities in the digital and inter-connected new economy. As foreign companies pursue expansion strategies, they can partner with the Philippines with its excellent track record in supporting global operations of companies from all over the world.

Just recently, our country got a much-needed boost as we are ranked among the safest economies in the world. The Philippines placed 12th among the 50 countries based on the highly respected Gallup’s 2020 Global Law and Order Report. It’s worth noting that we are in the same level as Australia and New Zealand.

What’s more, the recent passing of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives Reform Act (CREATE) at the Senate will not only help our efforts in economic recovery but also push tax reforms.

In light of the strong economic partnership between the Philippines and the US, it is only natural that our country becomes the investment destination for American businesses going global.

Thus, even as the Philippine Government is working hard towards the country’s recovery against COVID-19, the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is committed to continue our economic growth story. As we do so, we will create more jobs and employment for the Filipino people, which will give them a better and more comfortable quality of life.

That’s why we call on our American investors to take a closer look at how you can partner with the Philippines. You will see how we can ably support your business expansion plans, and provide you with a deeper insight on how to “Make it Happen in the Philippines.”

Maraming salamat po at mabuhay tayong lahat.

Date of Release: 18 December 2020