Davos trip gains investment interest from 9 int’l firms

Nine multinational companies have signified interest in investing or expanding their operations in the Philippines after their top executives met with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Thursday.

QUEST FOR BUSINESS. Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Special Assistant to the President Secretary Antonio Lagdameo engage CNN anchor and correspondent Richard Quest in an animated conversation Wednesday during the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Ver Noveno

Diokno and other economic managers who accompanied the President to the forum said they are confident that his participation and meetings with top international chief executives would bring economic gains to the country.

Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said among the nine companies interested in investing here is Astranis, a US provider of low-orbit satellites used for internet access.

He said such a service would provide connectivity to areas that are not yet connected through the main telecommunications providers.

On Wednesday, Marcos also met with executives from Morgan Stanley, which is set to open an office in Manila.

Gokul Laroia, chairman for Asia Pacific at Morgan Stanley told Marcos that the top global investment bank would set up an office in Manila, and said the President is on the right track in involving the private sector, especially in developing the country’s infrastructure.

When issues on government policy are addressed, private sector participation automatically happens, particularly by raising capital, Laroia said.

“Because you know there’s a lot to work with in the Philippines, as you said, the supply side dynamics need to improve,” Laroia said.

“We’re seeing some evidence of diversification of supply chains, the need to have the infrastructure benefit from that. So all of these can be a vicious cycle,” the Morgan Stanley official said.

Mr. Marcos also met with executives from a Dubai-based multinational logistics company, DP World. The company is said to be considering setting up an industrial park in Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, group chairperson and chief executive officer of DP World, told Marcos during the meeting that the logistics company has been developing industrial parks in many countries, including Senegal, Egypt, India and Pakistan.

“We are committed to investing in the Philippines; we’re committed to expand,” Bin Sulayem told the President. “So we’re interested in the Philippines, in industrial parks.”

The President also met with officials from Glencore, a multinational mining company.

“We’ve accomplished much. We had meetings with various top leaders and businessmen during our opening session with the President,” Diokno said in a mix of English and Filipino. “The purpose was really to sell the country.”

He added that the country’s participation in Davos was timely in the wake of the post-COVID-19 recovery.

“We have a very nice story to tell—our situation after the pandemic,” he said.

Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said potential investors want to be assured that the country can sustain its economic growth before doing business in the Philippines.

Senator Mark Villar expressed confidence that Marcos’ trip to Switzerland will attract more investments in the country.

“If we secure additional investments, there will be more job opportunities in our country which will pave the way for the further development of our economy,” he said in Filipino.

During the High-Level Dialogue on Investing in Infrastructure for Resilience at the WEF, Marcos said the Philippine government is taking a “proactive” approach and creating policies that will boost investors’ confidence.

“We aim to raise the confidence of investors, especially those that will benefit the social sectors of health, education and agriculture. For this reason, we have taken a proactive approach,” Marcos said in his keynote speech.

Marcos acknowledged the crucial role of the private sector in helping his administration develop the country’s infrastructure.

With the help of partners from the private sector, the Philippine government’s goal to transform the Philippines into an “equitable, prosperous and resilient” nation by 2040 is attainable, Marcos said.

Marcos said crafting several strategies, including the creation of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC), will enable the government to sustain the Philippines’ economic growth.

He noted that the recent amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law address concerns about the financial viability and bankability of public-private partnerships, as well as on the potential delays that might impede infrastructure projects.

He said pursuing “climate-resilient” infrastructure programs and projects is also a “top priority”, adding that the government has allocated around 9 percent of the national budget to support “conservation, climate change adaptation, and disaster risk reduction.”

“Whether natural or man-made, such disruptions and breakdowns have catastrophic indications for global businesses,” Marcos said.

“We have formulated many strategies so we can position the Philippines properly for the development and evolution of the new global economy,” he added.

Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said the President was doing a yeoman’s job at the WEF of driving more investments to the Philippines to boost the momentum of growth and improve the lives of the Filipino people.

“No less than Borge Brende, the president of the WEF, recognized the sustained effort President Marcos displayed in this forum to showcase the Philippines’ remarkable story and outline the path his administration is taking to welcome more foreign investments into our country,” Romualdez said.

Romualdez was referring to Brende’s comments in his dialogue with President Marcos, which was among the key events in the WEF.

“Mr. President Marcos, it’s great to have you here. I know you worked extremely hard today. I think I have seen you already three or four times and I know we have had so many sessions,” Brende said at the outset of their conversation.

Romualdez noted that like other attendees to the WEF, Brende was impressed with the performance of the Philippine economy despite the slowdown in many parts of the world.

“But even more importantly, the President was able to clearly convey his strategy for sustained growth and the peculiar advantages of the Philippines that would engender investor confidence in the realization of such an objective,” Romualdez said.

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