• By The Financial District


Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has told the American investor community that the smaller contraction of the Philippine economy in the third quarter indicates that “the worst seems to be over” for the pandemic-hit country, and that “additional improvements” are expected in the months ahead as the Duterte administration progressively reopens businesses and transportation to clear the way to a strong bounce back in 2021.

As the government makes headway in strengthening the country’s health system to prevent a surge in COVID-19 infections, Dominguez said at a virtual business forum hosted by the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. that “the government intends to continue finding more ways to help revive the domestic economy.”

With the Philippine economy “back in business despite the pandemic,” the Finance secretary said “we see many areas for cooperation between the US and the Philippines” in assorted opportunities for American investments such as in digital technology, agriculture, manufacturing and medical research.

“As we gradually reopen the economy with health interventions, our GDP performed much better. We had a smaller GDP (gross domestic product) contraction of 11.5 percent in the third quarter from a decline of 16.9 percent in the second quarter of this year. On a quarter-on-quarter basis, the economy grew by 8 percent in the third quarter,” said Dominguez at the webinar on “Philippines as Pathway to Asia in a Post-Pandemic World,” which was hosted Friday by the Philippine Embassy in the US capital.

“This (smaller GDP contraction) indicates that the Philippine economy is on the mend,” he said. “This is also a strong signal that the worst seems to be over for the country. The path is clearer to a strong bounce back in 2021.”

Present at the online gathering were Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez, Presidential Adviser on Flagship Programs and Projects Vivencio Dizon and American business leaders led by Charles Freeman, who is senior vice president for Asia of the US Chamber of Commerce.

Dominguez thanked Romualdez for putting together the webinar, noting that “this forward-looking event signals that the Philippines is back in business despite the pandemic.”

“Next year, we expect the Philippine economy to post a strong rebound …. We hope that the Philippines’ strong fundamentals, fiscal stamina and effective governance will continue to make us a promising investment destination and a growing market for US investors,” he said during the webinar held this morning (Philippine Standard Time).

“We expect to see additional improvements in the last quarter of this year as we progressively reopen businesses and transportation,” he said. “While strengthening our health system, we intend to continue finding more ways to revive the domestic economy. We see many areas of cooperation between the US and the Philippines on this front.”

For instance, he said, the Duterte administration is turning the coronavirus-induced global crisis into “an opportunity to boost the competitiveness of our manufacturing and agriculture sectors. We are pushing the use of digital technologies to transform Philippine agriculture into a dynamic, high-growth sector. With the US being one of the world’s greatest food producers, we see immense potential benefit in having American investments in this area.”