MANILA, Philippines - There is tremendous potential for growth in the ASEAN integration in 2015, particularly in tourism and human resources, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said on Monday.
In a keynote address at the Financial Times-First Metro Philippines Investment Summit, Purisima said member-countries of the ASEAN attracted more tourists than France in 2013.
"Imagine if the unit is working as one," he said.
Purisima highlighted the potential of the ASEAN integration, saying the region will not only be the youngest but the second-largest in terms of population.
"There is big upside particularly in human resources," he said.
He added that by 2020, ASEAN is poised to attract more foreign direct investments than China.
The challenge now for the Philippine government, according to Purisima, is to continue to educate and invest in people.
He also said government should continue to focus on policy initiatives that "got the Philippines back to where it should be."
Purisima said the Aquino administration should continue accelerating infrastructure spending, as it targets a 5 percent growth by the end of the President's term in 2016.
To sustain growth, Purisima believes the next administration should continue institutionalizing reforms.
"It is up to us to tell the world that it's going to be different in the Philippines," he said.
International economist and Harvard professor Carmen Reinhart, meanwhile, said that although the Philippine economy is working from a position of comparative strength, it should not be complacent.
"Do not let credit rating upgrades get to your head...Treat good shocks as temporary shocks," she said, noting that Mexico went through a banking crisis after scoring a credit rating upgrade.