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Dominguez points to rebound next year in pitch to potential Japanese investors

FINANCE Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III briefed Japanese businesses on the government’s plan to engineer a sharp economic rebound next year as part of a pitch for more investment.

“Next year, we expect our economy to post a strong rebound. The challenges are immense, but we are determined to build back a better economy that our people deserve,” Mr. Dominguez said in a speech Tuesday.

“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 Japanese investors,” he added.

Mr. Dominguez pointed to early signs of economic recovery such as the sustained increase in foreign direct investment net inflows, which rose 46.9% year on year to $637 million in August, and goods exports snapping a six-month losing streak with a rise of 2.2% to $6.22 billion in September.

He also cited the softer, but still double-digit decline of economic output in the third quarter. Gross domestic product fell 11.5% year on year in the three months to September, after a record 16.5% contraction in the second quarter.

“These green shoots indicate that the Philippine economy is on the mend. The path is clearer to a strong bounce back in 2021. The worst seems to be over for the country,” Mr. Dominguez said.

He said the Philippines and Japan can cooperate closer to boost disaster risk management initiatives.

“While strengthening our health system, we intend to continue finding more ways to revive the domestic economy. We are turning this crisis into an opportunity to boost the competitiveness of our manufacturing and agriculture sectors. We are also accelerating our move to a digital economy,” he said.

Asked to comment, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Inc. had not responded at the deadline.

Japan was the Philippines’ number two trading partner in September, after China.

Reforms have also helped strengthen the economy’s fundamentals, Mr. Dominguez said, such as the implementation of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program; new ease of doing business policies; increased spending on infrastructure; the national ID system; and the Universal Health Care program.

“Our infrastructure program is a sound strategy strongly supported by our development partners, especially Japan, through soft project loans and official development assistance,” he said.

Mr. Dominguez said passing other stimulus measures will ensure a sustained economic recovery, which includes the P4.5-trillion budget for 2021 and the bill that will allow state-run banks to establish special holding firms which will inject capital in companies deemed of strategic importance. — Beatrice M. Laforga

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