US firms back Duterte socioeconomic program

Despite President Duterte earlier announcing an economic “separation” of the Philippines from the United States, American investors in the country are supporting the administration’s peace-and-order thrust and socioeconomic agenda aimed at reducing poverty.

During their hour-long meeting last Saturday, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told representatives of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham) that the Duterte administration’s policy of “economic diversification” was aimed at “opening more markets for Philippine products overseas, encouraging more investments in the country and creating better-paying jobs for Filipinos.”

The government, added, would continue to make the Philippines an attractive place for investments by encouraging a competitive environment to level the playing field for business.


“As far as business is concerned, President Duterte wants to have more competition and more innovation,” Dominguez said, adding that the administration would make certain that the business environment was such that it encouraged people to stay on.

In response, AmCham executive director Ebb Hinchliffe said the group was backing up “100 percent” the Duterte administration’s 10-point agenda.

“From AmCham’s standpoint, we want this administration to be successful. Can you imagine what a wonderful place this would be if we could get rid of crime, corruption and drugs? It will be an even better investment environment,” Hinchliffe added.

The DOF said AmCham nonetheless “mentioned President Duterte’s statements on Philippine-US relations, but informed Dominguez of their hopes for continued investment here.”

To allay American investors’ concerns, Dominguez said: “I have listened very carefully and we will make certain that the business environment is such that it encourages people to stay on. We encourage competition and we encourage obedience to the law.”

Dominguez also urged AmCham to continue helping generate more jobs in the country. “Can we focus on creating more employment? How do we translate that into an action plan? How do we create jobs and make sure they are good jobs and that people can rely on them, because jobs provide dignity to people,” the finance chief told the American businessmen at the meeting.

The AmCham members who met with Dominguez included investors in the agriculture, business process outsourcing (BPO), construction, electronics, food processing, information technology, manufacturing, mining and power sectors. AmCham groups more than 700 American-led firms operating in the Philippines.

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