Today is: Sat, May 25, 2013
PH ‘A Future Economic Tiger’
BUTUAN CITY – An officer of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said the Philippines is on its way to becoming a future economic tiger – with credit up and investors confidence surging.
The USAID officer, however, said key players in the Philippine government, along with the business community, must work hard to bring positive results on many levels.
Before the country’s top business leaders and government officials attending the 21st Mindanao Business Conference (21st MinBizCon), USAID Philippine Mission Director Reed Aeschliman emphasized several key economic issues that policymakers and business chambers working together can help champion.
One, he said is the efficiency of Philippine ports.
The Philippines has almost doubled its port capacity in recent years, but several ports are underutilized.
“For instance, the Port of Zamboanga has an impressive container yard, yet its products are largely still exported to neighboring Malaysia through Manila,” said Aeschliman, who was the guest speaker at the 21st MinBizCon.
“Mindanao’s ports should serve as economic drivers, linking this region to the international trade system via marine transport,” he said.
The official also noted the rapid expansion of “Roll-On, Roll-Off (RORO) ports, which has already provided an efficient stimulus, as he encouraged the business leaders to strengthen and utilize these ports.
Another vital factor, he said, to completely become an economic tiger is Partnership for Growth (PFG).
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario recently initiated the US-Philippines Partnership for Growth, he said.
“Through the PFG, our governments jointly identified the most serious constraints to growth and are working together to help the Philippines achieve its goal of moving to a higher, sustained, and more inclusive growth trajectory in line with high-performing emerging economies,” he said.
The USAID official said the focus of this PFG is on regulatory quality, rule of law (including anti-corruption), fiscal transparency, and performance.
“The PFG seeks to boost trade and investment, and improve the overall competitiveness of the Philippines by lowering the cost of doing business, reducing red tape, easing barriers to market entry, facilitating trade, and improving other needs,” he said.
Cargo handlers, shipping agencies, and host city government officials and business chambers must join hands and frequently meet in an effort to tackle some vital concern to be more globally competitive, he added.
The officer also tackled the peace and security in Mindanao, which everybody must be involved in solving the problem.
The US government is fully supporting the peace and development effort of the administration, which is a key constraint to economic growth in the region, he said.
He said Mindanao has enormous human and natural potentials waiting to be tapped and developed.
“Together with the Philippines, the United States envisions a Mindanao that contributes significantly to improving the lives of its people – that is peaceful and a secure business hub, and that figures prominently among the country’s center of economic progress in a stronger and more prosperous Philippines,” the USAID officer said.
“We wish to see a vibrant partnership of government and the private sector in making Mindanao conducive to business,” he said, adding “We encourage business chambers to work constructively with government and pursue your role of advocacy to ensure that trade policy reforms conform with business developments in the economy – to create a healthy business climate where enterprises operate as catalysts to propel economy, generate employment, multiply the vast opportunities in Mindanao, and sustain inclusive economic growth.”
“We support President Aquino’s good governance not only a program goal, but also a prerequisite for partnership,” added Aeschliman.
The three-day 21st MinBizCon, which was hosted by the city government of Butuan, the provincial government of Agusan del Norte, Butuan Chamber and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry ended yesterday at a convention center in Butuan City.