MANILA, Philippines - Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima emphasized the Philippines’ continued march to economic prosperity especially with the upcoming integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations beginning 2015.
Speaking before a large French business delegation yesterday, Purisima said the Philippines, which has become one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, is still expanding and shows many signs of resilience.
Purisima urged French businessmen to boost their investments in the Philippines, which is expected to significantly benefit from the transformation of the Asean into a region with free movement of goods and services, investment, skilled labor and freer flow of capital.
He said the Asean, which is home to more than 600 million people, is seen to become the regional hub of choice for many multinationals focused on growth.
By 2019, the region is forecast to become the fifth largest automotive market in the world, and infrastructure spending is expected to increase to about $550 billion.
Purisima likewise cited the gains realized in the past three years under the leadership of President Aquino.
He said the local economy has grown by an average 6.3 percent since 2010 as a result of prudent fiscal management, improved tax collections and a robust economy.
Aside from this, Purisima said the Philippines is seen to enter a demographic sweet spot where a young generation of workers comes into effect.
The young professionals and a growing middle class would drive future consumption, thereby boosting the domestic economy.
“There is much potential in Asean as it ranks third in population, seventh in GDP, fourth in total world trade, and first in international tourism if it were considered a single market,” Purisima said.
Purisima pointed out that Asean outpaced China’s foreign direct investments last year with $128 billion compared to China’s $117.6 billion.
To further strengthen intra-regional trade, Purisima urged the 10-member countries to harmonize its regulatory standards and customs procedures ahead of the regional economic integration.