Investor confidence in the Philippines remains strong among local and international investors, especially with the reforms being instituted by President Rodrigo Duterte. This was the sentiment shared by businessman Lorenzo Tan during a chance interview with Mindanation.
According to the former Bankers Association of the Philippines president, the country’s “prospects are better than other emerging countries due to our big consumption base, younger population in the workforce, the growing OFW remittances, and BPO revenues, which will be coupled with the initiatives and reforms being undertaken by the Duterte government in mining, tourism, infrastructure and most especially addressing peace and order.”
This assessment is echoed by Mark Mobius, an emerging markets funds manager at Franklin Templeton Investments, who is also the executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group. Currently, he directs the Templeton research team based in 18 global emerging markets offices and manages emerging markets portfolios.
According to Mobius “Of course, it’s a tragedy that anybody gets killed, but in the context of what’s happened in the Philippines in the past and (Duterte’s) commitment to law and order, I’m not too worried about it. The concern about the illicit killings is a minor issue. The big issue is how they implement true law and order and the degree to which Duterte is able to do that… at the end of the day, I think the impact of the improved law and order will be positive.”
Aside from the focus on law and order, President Duterte foreign policy shift towards the Philippines’ Asean and Asian neighbors appear to be bearing fruit. According to Tan he has had meetings “with businessmen from Thailand and Singapore (who) express appreciation for the drive against crime in the Philippines as they have gone through the same painful process in the early years of the Thaksin and Lee Kuan Yew administrations.”
Lorenzo Tan adds that, while there may be jitters in some quarters, there are “long term investors like private equity funds, sovereign funds and portfolio funds ignore political noise and focus on the long term prospects of our economy. We just need to continue maintaining or improving our credit ratings as this affect the cashflow of our government.”