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04 March 2016

NEW YORK CITY — “It is my hope that the main lesson you will take away from the Philippine story is not only one of good governance, competitiveness, and economic growth; rather, might you share with the rest of the world the inspiring narrative of inclusivity, of a development centered on people, on an investment that reaps dividends with a human face.”

This was how Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. concluded his Opening Remarks at the Philippine Business and Investment Forum (PBIF), which took place on 03 March 2016 at the Sheraton Hotel Times Square in New York City. The PBIF brought together influential leaders from the Philippine Government and private sector, along with their U.S. and international counterparts for an in-depth analysis of the Philippine economic and political situation and the opportunities it holds for investors, both in capital markets and in industry.

The discussions also focused on the outlook for continued growth in the Philippines, the sustainability of reforms because of their institutionalization through legislation, and US investor sentiment.

Ambassador Cuisia framed the discussions at the PBIF by asserting that the narrative of Philippine economic growth is not only an exciting story about the exceptional economic performance of the country, but also how inclusive growth became an important objective of national economic policy.

The message of inclusivity was likewise a central theme of the Lead Panel composed of Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima; Chairman Arsenio Balisacan of the Philippine Competition Commission; Nouriel Roubini, Chairman and Chief Economist of Roubini Global Economics; and Jose E.B. Antonio, Chairman and CEO of Century Properties Group.

Dr. Balisacan pointed out that the Philippine narrative in the last six years is one that has never been seen in the post-war period. He said that “while there have been periods of economic growth in the past, the quality of such growth was not sustainable because it did not have the fundamentals of good economics and good governance.” He then expressed optimism that the reforms under the Aquino Administration are now deeply rooted, and can only deepen in the years to come.

“If there is sustained growth until 2040, in twenty-five years, the Philippines should be able to join the developed countries in the region,” Dr Balisacan added. He also emphasized that Government must transform economic growth into better social outcomes.

Dr. Roubini echoed the need to make sure that there is socially inclusive growth. He reminded the audience that “reforms are always disruptive; therefore, governments need to make sure that inequality is lessened by such reforms instead of being created.”

Mr. Antonio, commenting on the issue of inclusive growth, underscored the importance of developing new cities outside of the existing metropolitan areas in order to disperse economic growth and development.

“Thirty years ago, President Benigno Aquino’s mother, Corazon Aquino, became the symbol of the political empowerment of the Filipino people. Today, it is her son, who, as President, has become the symbol of the economic empowerment of the Filipino people. The President and his economic managers, in pursuing inclusive growth and investing in the Filipino, empowered our people to become greater participants and stakeholders in growing the Philippine economy,” said Ambassador Cuisia in his remarks.

The PBIF was organized by InvivaLink, a company specializing in the production of business and investment conferences.

Some of the other key speakers at the PBIF were Virgilio de los Reyes, Secretary of Agrarian Reform; former Secretary of Trade and Industry Gregory L. Domingo; Ma. Aurora Geotina-Garcia, Chairperson of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority; Enrique Razon, Chairman & President of ICTSI; Lorenzo Tan, President of the Bankers Association of the Philippines; Perry Pe, President of the Management Association of the Philippines; Ambassador John Negroponte, Co-Chair of the US-Philippines Society; Alexander Feldman, President & CEO of the US-ASEAN Business Council; John Chambers, Chairman of the S&P Sovereign Debt Committee; Jay Collins, Vice Chairman of Citigroup; and Terry Dale, President and CEO of the US Travel Operators Association.

The lead partners for the event were the Government of the Philippines and the US- Philippines Society. Other institutional partners are The Makati Business Club, the US ASEAN Business Council, the US Chamber of Commerce, the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of New York, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, and AMCHAM Philippines. ###