Feb 2, 2013

Philippines - Purisima wants Phl to become Asean trade hub

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MANILA, Philippines - The government is stepping  up the development of the country’s infrastructure as it positions the Philippines as a trade hub between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members and the markets they serve, a top economic manager said.   

Speaking before the French business delegation yesterday, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said improving the infrastructure, sustaining financial and macroeconomic stability and  Filipinos’ per capita income are the priorities of the Aquino Administration as the country seeks new heights in its economic transformation.   

“We need to make a leap in terms of infrastructure. If we don’t invest, we’ll not be able to harness the potential that’s before us. We need to attract private capital and technology to help us improve our infrastructure, tourism and agriculture,” Purisima said.

 “We are accelerating our efforts to build our infrastructure such as our ports, airports, power, mass transit because infrastructure is important to make sure we’re as efficient as our neighbors...We want to be a hub of Asean trade,” Purisima said as he noted that more Asean countries are becoming strong contenders

Purisima underscored the need for the country to aggressively position itself as the destination of choice of both investors and tourists as well as to continue to find ways to show the world that the Philippines can deliver more than just fun.

The Philippines, with a growing population, is a good source of manpower in the global market, Purisima noted.

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Purisima said the Philippines needs to integrate with the Asean and improve its business climate for it to become a hub in the region.

He noted that the Department of Finance (DOF) will continue to provide more funds for government projects aimed at pump-priming the economy while at the same time addressing the delivery of basic services and limiting the country’s budget deficit to only two percent of gross domestic product starting this year until 2016.

The Southeast Asian region, with a population of over 600 million people, is  seen to become a major economic growth force in Asia when the planned regional common market of Asean countries is established by 2015.

This will significantly reduce the cost of production for the businesses and economic growth of member-countries and of the entire region will accelerate.

Under the Asean integration plan, tariffs on most goods coming from member-countries will be brought down to zero or near-zero, their financial systems will be integrated, and employment restrictions will be eased.

The integration is seen to open more regional cooperation and will improve the scale efficiencies, dynamism and competitiveness of Asean members.  It wll enable easier movement of goods, services, investment, capital and people and will ultimately offer new ways of coordinating supply chains, or access to new markets for established products.

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