More than 200 business and financial executives attended the Philippine Economic Briefings (PEBs) in Europe where Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Felipe M. Medalla joined the country’s economic managers in London on 26 January and Frankfurt on January 23, 2023 to update European investors on the Philippine economy and investment opportunities in various industries.
Governor Medalla underscored the central bank’s “commitment to its mandate as an inflation-targeting central bank and to bringing inflation back to a target-consistent path.” The governor added that by the third or fourth quarter of 2023 and for the rest of 2024, the BSP expects headline inflation to be within the government’s target range of 2.0 to 4.0 percent.
The Governor also highlighted the soundness and stability of the banking system heading into 2023 and the BSP’s continued efforts to modernize the payment system.
The London economic briefing was held just a few hours after the release of the official 2022 full-year GDP growth rate of 7.6 percent, above the Philippine government’s target of 6.5 to 7.5 percent and repeatedly lauded by British officials and foreign executives during the PEB. Saif Malik, Standard Chartered Bank’s Global Head of Global Subsidiaries and Head of UK Client Coverage congratulated the Philippine economic team “on its fabulous, fabulous growth rate… with what we’ve gone through [globally], that is a real standout.”
UBS Group Treasurer, UK Chief Executive, and Chief Transformation Officer Bea Martin said that “growth prospects are very bright in the Philippines…. This is a country that is expected to grow 7 to 8 percent also over the medium- to long-term [and] outperform peers in the region.” Despite global inflationary pressures that led to rapid monetary tightening in many countries, “the Philippines has been one of the most dynamic economies in Asia Pacific where solid macroeconomic fundamentals reinforced by a number of reforms enabled [the country to] withstand most of the headwinds,” she added.
Malik also said that the “Philippines is positioned as one of the prime destinations for international investments” because of its “sound credit profile, stable financial system, and a firm economic recovery and reform momentum. We ourselves as a bank will be opening our global business services center in the Philippines very soon.”
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for Gloucester and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to the Philippines Richard Graham highlighted sectors where the Philippines and the UK can do more work together. These include renewable energy, science and research, health innovation and trade. “These are the economic partnerships we intend to enhance,” Graham added.
Speaking on behalf of the British government, Deputy Ambassador to the Philippines Alastair White relayed that the country “has been identified as a priority country for the British investment partnerships… to drive UK investment in the Philippines.”
In the Frankfurt PEB, Deutsche Bank Managing Director Achim Linsenmaier thanked the Philippine delegation for the first in-person briefing for European investors in five years “on the back of the highly, highly successful global bond offering… a testament to investors’ confidence on the progress made” by the Philippine government. Bank of America Managing Director Bhavik Pandya cited the Philippines’ “high economic growth, supported by a very stable financial system, infrastructure development, and in addition… a very strong ESG (environmental, social, and governance) commitment towards building a sustainable and inclusive country.”
During the open fora, private sector attendees in the London and Frankfurt PEBs indicated their interest to explore investment opportunities in healthcare, infrastructure and logistics, industrial supplies, and financial services.
Sandeep Uppal, President and CEO of HSBC Philippines, representing the private sector in the panel discussion and open forum in London, shared the view that the Philippines scores high on the major factors investors consider. These include a fast-growing economy, a large population (with a median age of around 24), and progressive economic policies. “There is no reason why [foreign investments in the Philippines] should not double over the near term,” he added.
Joining Governor Medalla in the briefings were Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno and Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman. National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan joined the group in Frankfurt before returning to the Philippines to finalize and announce the 2022 fourth quarter and full-year GDP performance of the Philippines. He was represented in the London leg by Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon.
In his keynote messages in London and Frankfurt, the head of the economic team and Finance Secretary Diokno cited the Philippines’ strong macroeconomic fundamentals, deliberate and well-crafted structural reforms, and bright economic prospects for European investors.
“Our growth agenda rests on a credible policy framework. To sustain our hard-earned gains, we have put together a comprehensive socioeconomic agenda to tackle immediate concerns while setting into motion deep economic and social transformation where growth opportunities for all Filipinos abound,” Finance Secretary Diokno said.
He also highlighted some of the government’s structural reforms, such as the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act, amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, amendments to the Foreign Investments Act, and amendments to the Public Service Act, which aim to open the economy, improve ease of doing business, and foster growth of modern transformative industries. He further highlighted the liberalization of the renewable energy sector and promotion of public-private partnerships with European investors as some of the key initiatives of the Marcos, Jr. administration.
The Frankfurt and London PEBs are the third and fourth international economic briefings under the term of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. Last year, the economic team organized similar events in Singapore and New York City.