Philippines economic growth, stability here to stay, Arroyo tells investors

Jun. 25, 2007

SINGAPORE (via PLDT) Saying that the Philippines is firmly on a “path to permanent economic growth and stability,” President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo urged Saturday foreign investors to invest in her country and partake of its economic surge.

“I hope that the gentlemen and ladies around this table. and for those of you who are the movers and shakers of the business community, please come and be a part of the profitable part of the Philippines economic surge,” the President said in her speech during the dinner with the co-chairs of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia 2007 at the Shangri-La Hotel here.

“As current head of Asean, we are particularly bullish on Asia, what we have accomplished and what we will achieve in the next 20 years,” she said.

The Philippines, she added, is a good business environment getting even better.

The President pointed out that during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit last January in Cebu, “we took several important steps that put us squarely on the path to create regional community by 2015, most notably the declaration of the Asean Charter.”

“I am happy to be here in the World Economic Forum not only as President of the Philippines but because the subject matter of tomorrows discussion is leadership in Asia,” she said.

The President said the economic gains of her administration are amply demonstrated by the billions of dollars in investments pouring into the Philippines, the strong peso and the stock market, which has reached all-time highs, and the creation of six million jobs in six years.

“The world is taking notice: we believe the Philippines offers one of the best values in Asia for domestic and foreign investors,” she said.

Among the examples of new investments in the Philippines are those of Texas Instruments, which plans to invest $1 billion to build new facilities for a chip plant in the Philippines.

Texas Instruments chose the Philippines as its regional hub over other locations, including China, the President said.

She stressed, however, that “the surge of investment has been anchored not only by Texas Instruments” as other giant foreign investors, including South Koreas Hanjin, are expanding their operations in the country.

Hanjin is investing $1.65 billion in the Subic Bay Freeport in the northern Philippine province of Zambales to construct the worlds fourth largest shipyard.

Two days ago, she added, Marubeni and Tokyo Electric bought $3.4 billion worth of electric power plants in the Philippines and announced a further expansion project worth $.5 billion.

“This is happening across the board in a number of industries. Of course, we are happy that Coca-Cola Philippines is strengthening its organization and business in the Philippines. We are working to ensure this will be sustained,” she said.

The President said her administration is committed to consolidating the gains it has achieved in revenue collection by making long overdue investments in human and physical infrastructure.

This includes, she said, billions of pesos of investments in education, healthcare and training, along with billions of pesos in the construction of new bridges, roads and ports to upgrade the competitiveness of the Philippines.

“We take great pride in the discipline of our administration to focus on the economy and our overall economic health. We are proud of the fact that we are prepaying our external debt,” she said.

The President also expressed optimism that her government would be able to balance the budget in 2008, two years ahead of schedule.

“We are proud that we are making sure to use the gains to invest in vital social and economic needs. We will not sacrifice long term gains for short term political expediency,” she stressed. (OPS)

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