Aquino welcomes US-ASEAN Business Council

March 31, 2011 4:54 am 

MANILA, MArch 30 — President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomed members of the US-ASEAN Business Council who called on the Chief Executive in Malacañang on Wednesday to express the group’s renewed interest to expand its business interests in the country.

The President, who was joined by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, welcomed the US-ABC delegation led by its president, Alex Feldman, to the Heroes' Hall of Malacañang at around 10 a.m.

In his opening remarks, Feldman expressed confidence that the group’s meeting with the President represented the beginning of a “partnership” between the Philippines and the US-ABC to expand trade and investment and improve the competitiveness of the Philippines.

“We believe that the success of this mission will be a source of continued positive first impressions and the start, hopefully, of more aggressive efforts to re-brand the Philippines as “open for business and under new management” and expand trade and investment and improve the competitiveness of the Philippines and hence the investment environment,” Feldman said.

“The reform process tackling corruption and attracting strategic investors as you’ve outlined will be critical to achieving your vision of unlocking the full potential of the Filipino people and Philippine society and creating new jobs, increasing healthcare and supporting new infrastructure development,” he added.

In response, Finance Secretary Purisima said the Aquino administration remains committed at implementing government reforms that will allow the Philippines to finally take off, noting that the country has taken a turn for the better since President Aquino assumed office in June last year.

"The national debt level has considerably gone down by almost half from 105 percent of GDP in 1988 to 57 percent now while growth has been pegged at 7.3 percent, the highest since 1976," Purisima said.

He added that the country’s heavily favored industries such as business process outsourcing, semiconductor, mining and shipbuilding have been posting steady growth numbers owing to renewed investor confidence in the Aquino administration.

He pointed out that the government is keen at addressing obstacles that have held back the country, namely the infrastructure gap, graft, corruption and poverty.

The Finance secretary called on the US-ABC to partner with government in addressing these stumbling blocks in order to help the country grow and prosper.

“We look forward to working with you in a public-private partnership so that we can create a better Philippines,” Purisima said.

The US-ASEAN Business Council, which was founded in 1984, represents American-based businesses in Southeast Asia and has offices in five countries in the region.

These businesses include those in: information communication technology, customs, corporate citizenship, defense, energy, financial services, health and life sciences, and food and agriculture. (PNA)

scs/PCOO/ssc

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