Cautiously optimistic about economic recovery

by Ambassador B. Romualdez

| Photo by Markus Spiske via Unsplash

I attended the forum held at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, where White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan outlined the Biden administration’s National Security Strategy and its priorities as the world braces for global challenges such as climate change and “competition between major powers” in areas that include the economic aspect.

A key focus of the strategy is for the U.S. to invest domestically to ensure that it is not dependent on foreign supply chains and to build alliances abroad to counter the influence of its competitors, such as China. Mr. Sullivan said the U.S. is willing to work with any country, including rivals, that would “constructively address shared challenges” while pursuing closer ties with other democracies to prove that they can deliver results.”Notwithstanding the key challenges that we face ahead – such as an elevated inflation rate along with the rest of the world, the lingering effects of the pandemic, and the unpredictability of the global political economy – the Philippines is fully prepared to address geopolitical risks and the shifting economic landscape.”

The world is at an inflection point, and the choices we make today will set the terms on how we are set up to deal with the significant challenges and the significant opportunities faced in the years ahead,” said National Security Adviser Sullivan.

The Philippines has an opportunity to step up to the plate, considering that the U.S. National Security Strategy also puts high importance on economic prosperity and is looking at opportunities to work with “allies and partners, especially in the Indo-Pacific,” who “stand on the frontlines of the PRC’s coercion and are rightly determined to seek to ensure their own autonomy, security and prosperity. We will support their ability to make sovereign decisions in line with their interests and values, free from external pressure, and work to provide high-standard and scaled investment, development assistance and markets.”

The timing for the recently concluded IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings here in Washington, D.C., was opportune, with our economic managers in full force to attend the in-person activities after two years of virtual and hybrid meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the meeting between Finance Secretary Ben Diokno and World Bank Group president David Malpass, the discussion centered on the Philippines’ economic growth as well as our vulnerabilities, with Mr. Malpass noting the importance of tax reform initiatives and the efforts to broaden the country’s tax base. It was encouraging to hear about the World Bank’s readiness to enhance its support for the Philippines, particularly in the areas of agriculture, tourism, energy, and education, among several other key sectors.

There is no question that countries are struggling to recover from the global shocks that have been coming one after the other – the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the climate disasters that have been happening across continents that are bringing about a “fundamental shift in the global economy,” as noted by IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva, who also warned that these shocks can throw countries off-course “more easily and more often.”

This is also why we have been relentless in our efforts to host and co-organize economic briefings, dialogues, and forums, like the panel discussion we hosted last Friday on the sidelines of the IMF-WB Annual Meetings between key economic officials and US-based companies, as well as business groups and financial communities. The dialogue, which had close to 70 participants, was a follow-up to the Philippine economic briefings held earlier in Singapore and more recently in New York during the visit of President Bongbong Marcos.

“As noted by Secretary Diokno, the high economic activity in the country, as well as rising investor confidence, point to a rapid recovery and robust growth.”

Finance Secretary Ben Diokno and BSP Governor Felipe Medalla are cautiously optimistic about the outlook for the Philippines, confident that we will still be in good shape. As noted by Secretary Diokno, the high economic activity in the country, as well as rising investor confidence, point to a rapid recovery and robust growth. Notwithstanding the key challenges that we face ahead – such as an elevated inflation rate along with the rest of the world, the lingering effects of the pandemic, and the unpredictability of the global political economy – the Philippines is fully prepared to address geopolitical risks and the shifting economic landscape.

Clearly, we have to double our efforts to bring in more foreign direct investments. To compete with our neighboring countries, we definitely need to decisively make the country more attractive and easier to do business in. Fortunately, the team of Speaker Martin Romualdez was on hand in Washington to listen to what is needed for the swift passage of bills and make the Philippines “the smart investment choice.”

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ES Lucas Bersamin: The right man for the right job

The recent changes in Malacañang with the appointment of former Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin as the new Executive Secretary has been widely welcomed because of his experience as well as his impressive track record in the Judiciary. During the Judicial Excellence Awards in 2000, he received both the Best Decision in Civil Law and Best Decision in Criminal Law awards – described as unprecedented – and received the Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos Award in 2002.

Having known ES Bersamin for some time, he would definitely bring his professional management style and put it to good use. When I had a fairly long conversation with him in 2018 during a luncheon I hosted for Philippine delegates to the U.S. Legal Clinic in Washington, D.C., I was impressed with his credentials.

It’s normal for any administration to make changes in their Cabinet appointments, and even in the White House, changes usually occur during the first 100 days of a new president – which are all part and parcel of finding out who would be the best fit for a particular position.

In the case of Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, there is no doubt that he is, indeed, “the right man for the right job.”

Email: babeseyeview@gmail.com

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