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06/05/2013: American Committees on Foreign Relations Laud PH Performance

6 May 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The economic miracle that has transformed the Philippines from a basket case into an emerging tiger has earned plaudits from the prestigious American Committees on Foreign Relations (ACFR).

In a statement, the Philippine Embassy said ACFR members who were in Washington D.C. for their 18th Annual Conference gave the thumbs up for the Philippines after hearing Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. discuss the economic transformation of what once was considered the “Sick Man of Asia.”

In his remarks at a reception hosted by the Embassy, Ambassador Cuisia told ACFR members the economic reform measures President Benigno Aquino III instituted since assuming office helped make it possible for the Philippines to become the second fastest growing economy in Asia.

"The explanation of the present and projected economic and political progress of the Philippines was clear and very understandable,” said Jack Bierley, President of the ACFR, a nonprofit association established in 1938 to facilitate debate on international events between Washington and the American heartland. “US business persons should look to the Philippines for 21st Century opportunity," Bierley said.

ACFR Adviser and Program Director Elizabeth Colton said Ambassador Cuisia's presentation on the Philippines with all its economic energy and dynamism gave their members a vivid and positive picture of the country. “Certainly, all who heard him were inspired to want to visit the Philippines and also to consider doing business there," Colton said.

According to Tim Lyons of the Alabama Committee on Foreign Relations, the recent investment grade rating for the Philippine's sovereign debt is impressive. “The robust prospects for economic growth speak well for the government's economic management and the Philippines’ traditional close ties to the US makes it an important partner for our increasing focus on the Pacific Rim,” he said.

Brian Robertson, Chair of the Santa Barbara Committee on Foreign Relations said Ambassador Cuisia eloquently outlined the dramatic improvement in the economy and added the positive direction of the new agreement with the Muslims in Mindanao.  “I was very excited to see a welcome return of the promotion of tourism to the Philippines,” said Robertson, owner of Robertson International Travel Company.

Houston-based lawyer Reda Hicks, who frequently travels on business to the Philippines, said the rate of growth she has seen since 2006 has been truly remarkable. “The growth is taking place across many sectors, from improvements in infrastructure to the increased number of companies with operations in the Philippines,” she noted.

“Even the skyline in Manila had been transformed by the many development projects underway,” Hicks added. “Listening to the Ambassador put numbers to the growth I've been witnessing really drove home what an amazing time it is for the Philippines.”

"I appreciated the information provided on the growth and development in the Philippines. I did not realize that the country, one of America's closest allies in the region, had such tremendous growth. That bodes well for continuing to expand trade relations with the Philippines," according to ACFR Treasurer Dick Goodson.

In his remarks, Ambassador Cuisia cited the 6.6 percent growth in the country’s GDP; the continuing appreciation of the peso against the dollar; the record gains registered by the Philippine Stock Market; and last week’s investment grade rating by Standard & Poors.

“There is no doubt that President Aquino’s good governance program has resulted into what many consider to an economic miracle,” he said. “Our government continues to make investments to allow it to institutionalize the mechanisms that have produced this momentum of growth.”

“We have made the difficult decisions that will pay off in terms of long term inclusive growth and stability,” the Ambassador said as he cited Manila’s efforts to reform the judiciary, streamline business processes and enhance revenue streams. “We moved forward with our efforts to foster peace and stability in the Philippines and open up untapped opportunities in our resource rich southern Philippines.”

Ambassador Cuisia also told ACFR members that the Philippine Government has been working on constructing, rehabilitating, and enhancing the quality of the country’s infrastructure and has pursued a prudent and disciplined monetary and fiscal policymaking, which has created strong, sustainable well-grounded policy frameworks.

“And we remain committed to ensuring that this economic growth is not just sustained, but is inclusive, and will clearly result in uplifting the lives of our people,” he said. ###