Investors still eye PH despite Duterte ourbursts, traders say


Posted at Sep 24 2016 05:13 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks to policemen in General Santos City on Sept. 23, 2016. Malacanang photo

MANILA - Sound economic fundamentals make the Philippines an attractive place for investments despite President Rodrigo Duterte's tough talk against critics of his bloody war on drugs, a group of businessmen said Saturday.

Duterte, however, should consider tempering his rhetoric to avoid "misinterpretation" from foreign investors who are not familiar with his background as a local chief executive, said George Barcelon, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Businessmen see the country as a "good country for investments," Barcelon told ANC's "Dateline Philippines." The PCCI continues to host foreigners on investment missions, he added.

Asked if the President should tone down his rhetoric, Barcelon said: "I do think that should be tempered. Honestly speaking, it would avoid misinterpretation."

Foreign portfolio investments posted net outflows of $5.6 million on Friday, up from $600,000 the day before, according to Bloomberg data. The peso also dipped to P48 to the dollar on Friday, its lowest level since January, before closing at P47.99, according to the Philippine Dealing System.

While some analysts have partly blamed Duterte's tough talk for the fund outflows, Regina Capital research head Luis Limlingan said this was due to concerns over an expected interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve before the end of the year.

Limlingan told ANC that on the governance side, investors were more concerned over how Duterte could deliver on his promise to reform the tax system and solve crippling traffic jams in the capital.

The market is also looking for policy direction on mining, Limlingan said. The environment department, which has suspended at least 10 mines, is expected to release results of an industry-wide inspection on Tuesday.

"I think what investors want is some decisiveness from the President," Limlingan said.

This week, American debt-watcher Standard and Poor's said the predictability of the country's economic policies "diminished somewhat" with Duterte focused on his bloody war on drugs and rejecting criticism from the United States, United Nations and European Union with cuss-filled jabs.

The President said he did not care about credit rating agencies.