11 March 2024 (Monday) 10:10-10:17 AM | Malacañan Palace

Honored guests from the U.S. Presidential Trade and Investment Mission, esteemed colleagues, ladies and gentlemen—welcome.

It’s with great pleasure that we embark on a renewed journey in the partnership between the United States and the Philippines. Your presence today is greatly valued, and I thank you sincerely for joining this trade and investment mission.

Let’s dive into why the Philippines should be on the radar for American investors. Last year, we celebrated a GDP growth rate of 5.6 percent, surpassing the economic performances of notable Asian nations. This achievement aligns with, or even exceeds, the expectations set by esteemed bodies such as the IMF, AMRO, and the World Bank.

The same upward trajectory is mirrored in our foreign direct investment figures. In November alone, FDI net inflows rose by 27.8 percent, reaching the USD 1 billion mark that month. This increase is a noteworthy step up from the previous year. Our FDI net inflows for the first eleven months of 2023 amounted to USD 7.6 billion.

While many economies are grappling with downgrades, the Philippines stands out for maintaining its investor-grade credit ratings. R&I validated the country’s BBB+ rating in August 2023, simultaneously upgrading its outlook to positive, which suggests improving fiscal health.

Later in November, S&P Global and Fitch Ratings both reaffirmed the Philippines’ credit standings, with S&P’s stable outlook reinforcing the country’s ongoing economic rebound and expected fiscal improvement. Given its steady economic climate, growth potential, and strategic fiscal policies, these endorsements highlight the Philippines as an attractive investment option.

Beyond these numerical metrics, we’ve cemented strategic alliances to bolster our workforce, preparing them for the ever-evolving landscape of global business.

In a notable partnership with Google Asia Pacific, we are honing the skills of our workforce to meet the sophisticated needs of investors, with a keen focus on critical digital competencies.

The Philippines presents a range of investment possibilities. With our talented workforce, abundant resources, strategic location, and solid trade partnerships, I firmly believe that we can transform the Philippines into a hub for smart and sustainable manufacturing and services in Southeast Asia.

Infrastructure is a key focus, with the Marcos administration’s Build Better More program initiating nearly 200 high-impact projects valued at PHP 8.8 trillion (approximately USD 148 billion). Several of these projects will mobilize private capital for sustained success, particularly in digital infrastructure and sustainable energy. We also see public-private collaborations to expedite the project implementation and align with market dynamics and sustainability goals.

We invite U.S. telecom firms to consider the Philippines a strategic base in the digital age. Our country’s growing reliance on cloud services, data localizations, and the Internet of Things marks an era of digital transformation that necessitates robust digital infrastructure.

We must build a modernized digital infrastructure as it is crucial for e- governance and to support significant services such as data centers and IT-BPM. Again, our telecommunications goals align with our firm commitment to build a resilient digital ecosystem.

The Philippines has achieved global recognition in the semiconductor and electronic manufacturing space. Our software development and engineering design capacity and our skilled labor force create an attractive prospect for investors. Notably, we invite investments in strategic lab-scale wafer fab facilities.

In the face of the existential threat from climate change and the need for a green transition, renewable energy and green metals stand out as most promising for the Philippines. With immense potential for renewable energy generation and critical mineral reserves, the Philippines is not just an investment destination but a partner in the global push for sustainable development.

Thankfully, the Philippines is gifted with an abundance of RE potential amounting to over 490,000 MW and an estimated 2 billion metric tons of nickel reserves, 1.1 billion metric tons of copper, and 260,000 metric tons of cobalt. To tap these minerals, we need investments in exploration, development, processing, and various value-adding activities to produce battery precursors and batteries.

In closing, I echo my earlier statement: An economically strong Philippines is a strategically strong ally. To the representatives of the U.S. government, I urge your backing for our collective goals—enhanced global engagement, increased investment, and steadfast economic growth.

To the American companies in this mission, I say the Philippines is open for business, and we offer a rich array of investment opportunities for growth and profit.

Thank you. ♦

Date of release: 11 March 2024