PH still FDI laggard in Asean

By Catherine N. Pillas, BusinessMirror

Posted at Jun 25 2014 07:30 AM | Updated as of Jun 25 2014 03:30 PM

MANILA - The Philippines beat its Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) peers in terms of growth in foreign direct investments (FDI), but still ended up being the laggard among the six major economies in the region in 2013.

This is based on data shown to the media during the World Investment Report for 2014 presentation on Tuesday. The report is an annual publication of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad).

The Philippines posted a growth of 24 percent in FDI inflows in 2013, the fastest in the Asean.

Malaysia registered an FDI growth of 19 percent; Indonesia, 17 percent; Singapore, 5 percent; and Thailand, negative 12 percent. Vietnam had a flattish growth.

However, the Philippines only netted $3.9 billion in FDI last year, the lowest among the six major economies in Asean.

Singapore emerged as the top FDI destination in the region anew with $63.77 billion. It is followed by Indonesia, $18.44 billion; Thailand, $12.95 billion; Malaysia, $12.31 billion; and Vietnam, $8.9 billion.

In presenting the report, Dr. Cielito Habito, former socioeconomic planning secretary and current chief of Party of the United States Agency for International Development’s Trade-Related Assistance for Development Project, said in the domestic front, overall investments saw a tremendous growth in the past few years compared to a decade ago. Comparing the period of 2004 to 2009 versus 2010 to 2013, Habito, citing statistics from the Philippine Statistical Authority, said it is clear that the Philippines is back on a growth trajectory since 2010.

Overall annual investment growth rates of the Philippines from 2004 to 2009 experienced zero growth rate, with the country fluctuating between growth and recession during the said period.

“From 2004 to 2009, the growth of annual investment, both public and private, foreign and local, the average is zero percent per year. Annual total investment growth was stagnant. [The year] 2010 was the turning point, with fixed capital formation gaining double-digit growth for the entire year,” Habito said. Construction, both public and private, and durable equipment pushed capital-formation growth from negative 9.9 percent in 2009 to 31.6 percent in 2010.

The World Investment Report reveals global trends in FDI around the world. The theme of 2014’s report is “Investing in the Sustainable Development Goals.”

According to the report, in 2013, 54 percent of global FDI amounting to $778 billion, flowed into developing countries. Around $556 billion were received by developed nations.

Unctad projects that the current FDI level, which rose 9 percent to $1.45 trillion in 2013, could rise to $1.6 trillion in 2014 and ease to $1.8 trillion in 2016.