SAN FRANCISCO — Consul General to San Francisco Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. delivered a presentation showcasing the Philippines as an investment destination at the Annual Meeting of the 20-20 Investment Association on April 30, 2019 at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco.
Consul General Bensurto shared that the Philippines presents a unique investment opportunity not just through its domestic market of 106 million, it also serves as a gateway to the ASEAN region and the expanded free trade region of the ASEAN+6 (Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand. In view of its geographical location in the Western Pacific, the Philippines is only two to four hours away from the major cities of the region.
He also said that with its solid macroeconomic fundamentals, the Philippines remains as a bright spot in Asia. The country’s economy has registered growth over the past 20 consecutive years, with above average growth particularly since 2012.
“As an investment destination, the Philippines has a large potential for growth. Net foreign direct investments have been significantly rising over the past decade. In 2018, the Philippines received 9.8 billion dollars of foreign direct investments (FDI), which were invested primarily in manufacturing, financial and insurance activities, real estate, electricity, gas, steam, and arts, entertainment, and recreational activities. The world’s global investment rating agencies: Moody’s Standard & Poor’s, Fitch and Tokyo-based Japan Credit Rating Agency, have classified the Philippines as ‘investment-grade’ with a ‘Stable’ economic outlook,” Consul General Bersurto highlighted.
Infrastructure remains a priority sector with government spending targeted to increase from 5.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017 to 7.4 percent of GDP by 2022. A total of 75 infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program of the government are in the pipeline. Infrastructure spending is expected to increase to US$ 160 billion to fund these projects.
Finally, Consul General Bensurto shared that the Philippines is positioning itself as an avenue for growth for start-ups. There is already a nascent yet fast growing start-up ecosystem, as evidenced by the growing number of start-ups emerging from the country. In the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley, Filipinos can be found working in Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Apple, Netflix, among others in a wide range of fields, including computer programming, engineering, marketing, customer service, and human resources.
The 20-20 Investment Association is a non-profit association headquartered in Tacoma, Washington, of top-level international firms focused on evaluating investment opportunities in emerging markets. Its members represent companies that are worth nearly US$10 trillion in assets.
Since 1992, the 20-20 Investment Association has been undertaking annual trips to selected countries that the group has evaluated to be possible investment opportunities. For 2019, the 20-20 Investment Association has selected the Philippines and Thailand as destinations for their annual trip. This is the first time that its members shall undertake a visit to the Philippines.
In preparation for the trip, the 20-20 Investment Association hosted a panel discussion that featured Consul General Bensurto and the Consul General of Thailand to Los Angeles Mungkorn Pratoomkaew, to provide an overview of the economic and investment climates in the two countries.
Members of the 20-20 Investment Association are tentatively scheduled to undertake their annual investment trip to the Philippines in November 2019.