DOF assures US officials of PH’s vow to roll out ‘red carpet’ to investors

Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto has assured United States officials of the Philippines’ strong commitment to roll out a welcoming ‘red carpet’ to potential investors in the country as directed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

Secretary Recto met with US officials led by Treasury Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia Robert Kaproth on January 22, 2024 to discuss efforts to further strengthen ties and boost economic and investment cooperation between the Philippines and the US.

During the meeting, Secretary Recto said the Philippine government would act faster in addressing investor concerns as he laid out the country’s economic liberalization laws that would further facilitate ease of doing business in the country.

These laws include the amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act (RTLA), the Foreign Investments Act (FIA), and the Public Service Act (PSA).

Secretary Recto also highlighted that the Philippines recently improved its public-private partnership (PPP) framework through the enactment of the PPP Code, which would open up massive investment opportunities in the infrastructure sector.

The Infrastructure Flagship Projects (IFPs) under President Marcos, Jr.’s Build Better More infrastructure program consists of 198 projects with an indicative total investment requirement of PHP 8.78 trillion (USD 157 billion).

Secretary Recto said that among the priority sectors for infrastructure investments include renewable energy, water, airports, seaports, roads, tollways, and railways.

He also said that the government is currently studying the amendments to the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE) to improve the law and further tailor-fit the interests of investors in strategic investments.

Secretary Recto likewise assured the US that their partnership with the Philippines would be a two-way street and emphasized the importance of consistent dialogue.

He also broached the potential of having a free trade agreement (FTA) with the US and further enhancing security and military ties between the two nations.

In response, US officials welcomed these developments and expressed optimism about further deepening partnership with the Philippines, pointing out that the country’s young, English-speaking population and strong macroeconomic fundamentals underscore its attractiveness as a viable investment destination.

The US likewise expressed interest in helping the Philippines establish an investment mechanism to help the country screen foreign direct investments (FDIs) for national security purposes.

Joining Secretary Recto in the meeting were Chief of Staff and Undersecretary Alu Dorotan Tiuseco; Undersecretary Maria Edita Z. Tan of the International Finance Group (IFG); and Assistant Secretary Eufrocinio M. Bernabe Jr. of the Office of the Chief Economist.

Other key US government officials in the meeting were US Treasury Financial Attaché to Southeast Asia Daniel Hall; and US Embassy to the Philippines representatives Chargé d’affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Ewing, Economic Counselor Phil Nervig, and Economic Officer Eileen Vickery.

A high-level delegation from the US government is expected to visit the Philippines in March to further strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries.