Top businessmen & a Nobel prizewinner on the Philippine economy in 2017

The Philippine Star
January 16, 2017

How do local and foreign businessmen assess our economic prospects and President Duterte's policies in 2017?

I interviewed many top business leaders through Negosyo founder and RFM Corp. CEO Joey Concepcion. He recently galvanized over 500 entrepreneurs, led by Manny V. Pangilinan, Lucio C. Tan, Tessie Sy Coson, Ramon Ang, Robina Gokongwei-Pe, Phil. Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PCCI) president George Barcelon, Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers (FFCCCII) president Angel Ngu, and others to offer unprecedented investments and charitable donations for President Duterte's bold plan to economically revive war-torn and poor Sulu province as a way to promote lasting peace. Also expressing her support was House Deputy Speaker Dr. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Optimistic about the Philippines' economic future is Alfred Dy, head of Philippine Research at CLSA Limited. Congrats to CLSA Ltd. on once more being voted the No. 1 stock brokerage in the Philippines, besting 25 out of 27 categories in the prestigious Asiamoney Brokers Poll 2016 (including the best local brokerage honor for the very first time).

CLSA Philippines was cited for its "differentiated, un-conflicted research" and voted "Best Overall Country Research" for the seventh consecutive year and the "Most Independent Research Brokerage" for the third consecutive year. It was also No. 1 in the survey on research coverage in 14 of 16 sectors.

Also hopeful about the Philippines is one of the world's top economists, Nobel Prize-winning Harvard professor Eric S. Maskin, whom I interviewed thanks to De La Salle University President Bro. Raymundo B. Suplido, FSC and Bridges Dialogues/International Peace Foundation leader Uwe Morawetz.

Prof. Maskin said, "The Philippines has certainly come a long way, you have a lot to be proud of, but it is premature to rest on your laurels... Duterte is viewed negatively for his unfiltered statements, which could be a good or bad thing, but I applaud President Duterte for his concern for the poor. I don't know whether he could succeed or not there. He got elected due to the inequality and if your president can lead your country towards less inequality, it would be good. To correct inequality needs intervention in policies like redistributive taxation, but this is not a permanent solution; it is better to promote more investments in human capital."

On Duterte's independent foreign policy of the Philippines befriending Russia and China, Maskin said, "I don't know enough about your foreign policy, but the Philippines' having more trade with China - that is fine; more trade with Russia, fine. For a country to add new friends and gain new trade partners is constructive. I think it's always good to expand trade; it will be good for the Philippines, it will be good for China, it will be good for the world."