Remarks of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for the Roundtable Dialogue with the ASEAN-BAC and invited CEOs

Speeches 6 September 2023

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

The Members of the Cabinet
and the official and business delegations that are here this afternoon, our Indonesian business partners, Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant afternoon.

Selamat sore semuanya! Did I get that right? [applause]

It would be unforgivable to get it wrong. It’s close enough to Filipino that I should pronounce it properly.

Well, good afternoon everyone. I am very happy to be here to be with you all today. I would like to begin by extending my appreciation to the ASEAN and Philippine Business Leaders for your presence in this roundtable meeting, jointly organized by the ASEAN Business Advisory Councils of the Philippines and Indonesia. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude for your continued interest and confidence in the Philippines.

I remember Indonesia is the first country I visited last year. But having said that, this gathering is now a testament to the growing partnership and collaboration between our two nations.

I wish to acknowledge the valuable contributions of the ASEAN Business Advisory Councils in forging cooperation and partnership with the Philippines. I also wish to commend the partnerships and cooperation forged between the Philippines and our ASEAN stakeholders from the government and from the private sector, from business groups that are mutually beneficial to both our nations not only on a bilateral level, but hopefully in thinking upon the regional stage as well.

The Philippines looks to foster deeper economic ties with ASEAN partner countries through the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). It is a catalyst that is seen to bring in even more collaboration amongst ASEAN member states.

I am pleased to share that the RCEP finally entered into force for the Philippines on the 2nd of June.

The RCEP Agreement serves as a key milestone in the ASEAN-driven process to sustain the momentum of economic growth and post-pandemic recovery of the region.

We are positive that RCEP will further deepen economic integration and significantly contribute to the economic growth of the region.

The Philippines, through the Department of Trade and Industry, is likewise intensifying efforts to increase awareness and fully utilize the benefits of this Agreement. Last 15th of June, we launched the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) 2023-2028 and the RCEP campaign during the International Trade Forum organized by the Department of Trade and Industry to gather key government officials, RCEP embassies, private sector representatives, and other stakeholders to discuss ways to maximize the potential for trade and investments from the new Philippine Export Development Plan and the RCEP.

Amid increasing global challenges, both our economies are expected to have significant growth, continuing to recover from the COVID-19 economic impacts. This compels us to support and strengthen this partnership.

We have undertaken reforms in the Philippines to make it more conducive to business growth.

To ease foreign ownership restrictions and entice investors for the country’s recovery and growth, we have amended our Public Service Act, which now allows foreign firms to own, fully own 100 percent corporations that are involved [inaudible] in the production of renewable energy.

We have the Foreign Investment Act, which [inaudible] the incentives and a [complementary?] tax structure for potential investment. And also the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, which makes the possibility of economic activity and easier [inaudible] than it was when it first started.

These legislative amendments will further open up the economy to foreign investments and thereby hasten the country’s growth through the entry of more foreign direct investments.

We have also enacted the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act or CREATE, which reduces our corporate income tax and provides tier-specific incentives for investors. This law also gives the government the ability to design support packages for highly desirable projects that exude sophistication and innovation.

More recently, we also signed the Ease of Doing Business Act and Executive Order No. 18 on Green Lanes for Strategic Investments. This signifies the unwavering commitment of this government to simplify procedures and trim bureaucratic layers to ensure the ease of doing business in our country.

We are optimistic that we can develop globally competitive and innovative industries that support inclusive and sustainable growth.

For this, we are also integrating trade, investment promotion, and industry development policies. The integration will expand and diversify trade and investment and upgrade participation in global value chains (GVC).

We will integrate our production systems by linking, for example, manufacturing, agriculture, and services; deepening the global value chains participation; pursuing a more aggressive trade and investment policy; and expanding and diversifying our exports, trade, and our investment partners.

With strong partnerships, I see many opportunities for ASEAN partner countries and the Philippines to further strengthen our ties in trade and investment. This roundtable meeting is a significant platform to guide this long-standing partnership.

Before I end, I will just like to once again go through the general situation we are facing in the Philippines in terms especially of our economy. As can be expected and as experienced by many of the countries in the region in Southeast Asia, the agriculture still remains to be the number one priority. It remains the number one priority because it is a moral duty of government to be able to [inaudible] this date, to be able to [inaudible] people. But part of that, we take it down to a more complicated level.

The agriculture also continues to be a large contributor to our [inaudible] in the Philippines. And that has been exacerbated by the prospects of the El Niño that is supposed to hit us. Actually we are technically supposed to be already in a drought situation. But we [inaudible]. But nonetheless, we anticipate that when – by the beginning of next year that we will begin to feel the effects of [inaudible]. This is something that we, not only the Philippines, are all preparing for.

It is nonetheless something that we continue to [inaudible] and have had now takes some emergency measures by imposing price ceiling on the price of rice. It was taking up too much of the [inaudible] – too much of the income of ordinary Filipino citizens.

Now that’s the one point of agriculture. [inaudible] agriculture in the same situation and [inaudible]. You are all familiar with the situation with Avian flu and the swine flu that we are all suffering from now. But we are looking forward to the news that the vaccines for the livestock are slowly going to become available.

And that [inaudible] is another area that we would [inaudible] like to explore. This part of our agricultural sector is very – is still struggling to come back from the big effects of the diseases that [inaudible].

Accompanying all that [inaudible] again as we are all familiar with, sectors in the economies never stand by itself. Agriculture cannot [be seen?] as the separate entity from the rest of the economy. And that’s why many of the – when we talk about priorities of course [inaudible] agriculture.

But in the Philippines, other areas in which we are particularly focused on are the areas of energy, both the [inaudible] supply and of the shift to renewable. And we of course continuing our infrastructure buildup which is the most important and absolutely critical in any – if we are to develop and industrialize larger parts of the economy. Of course, digitalization is given. [inaudible] we all have [inaudible] that you will be working and to make things better, to be more productive, the key is always to make people more productive, make our economic activities more productive so [inaudible] value for the same amount of investment, the time and energy and [inaudible].

And these are the elements that we are trying to balance. And of course, [inaudible] with ASEAN, we have come to the agreement that the way forward for us, for example, but also for each country, the member country, is the [inaudible] physical connectivity, [inaudible].

And those need to be – if we are — as the theme of this ASEAN conference is, if we are to be the epicenter of growth, then those supply chains must be able to cross the borders and frontiers. and the physical connectivity within the country and with other countries has become a very, very important part of the Philippines.

And so generally, these are the areas that we have been focusing on. They are not [inaudible]. Our world is not exclusive to this sector but they now are occupying most of our [inaudible] and planning as the economy is still in a very volatile [inaudible].

We had started off strong in terms of [inaudible]. But now we feel it’s going down and everybody else is going to feel. And that’s why we have to be more agile and we have to be [inaudible] that are available to us. And that is why [inaudible] more partnerships. There is much that we can do to learn from one another and to be able to maximize the value that we put to our products both from Indonesia and also the Philippines.

So this is the general tendency, the general trend that we have been following in terms of the management of the economy of the Philippines. And again, I cannot say now how happy I am to be able to have met with you. Some of you again and to have this opportunity so that we can hopefully explore many areas that we have really not spoken about before but are particularly relevant when it comes to partnerships between our two countries both on the private and the public sector.

We have adopted a policy of a very close coordination and cooperation with the private sector and that I think is also the element that will add to the possibilities to excel.

So finally, allow me to once again reassure you all of the Philippine government’s commitment to continue supporting foreign investments in the ways that we can help one another and that would be mutually beneficial to you, your – the groups that you represent and your country.

Thank you very much. [applause]

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