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BUSINESS HEADLINES THIS PAST WEEK...
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

PH 3rd MOST OPTIMISTIC AMONG 37 ECONOMIES -INT'L BIZ SURVEY
[ALSO: Airport construction to pick up under Duterte]


NOVEMBER 1 -OPTIMISTIC. Filipinos are feeling optimistic about the economy.Agence France-Presse file photo The Philippines emerged as the third most optimistic among 37 economies for the third quarter of the year, boosted by strong prospects in revenues, exports and the integration of Asean. These were the highlights of the global business survey of The Grant Thornton International Business Report. MarivicEspaño, chairperson and chief executive officer of P&A Grant Thornton, said the results come at a time optimism in Asia-Pacific is “travelling in different directions this quarter.” The report shows emerging nations like the Philippines are still much more optimistic. READ MORE...ALSO, Airport construction to pick up under Duterte...

ALSO 'UNDAS' MESSAGE -Duterte: Let us pursue genuine change
[RELATED By Gerardo Sicat: The macro economy and foreign policy rebalancing]


NOVEMBER 1 -PRESIDENT Duterte pays respects to his departed parents in Davao City today as he leads the observance of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day.
In his message to the public, Duterte said: “These two events remind us that, even though all things come to pass, our deeds will outlast our mortal lives. No amount of success, power, or position can ever compensate for the greed and corruption of human character. Truly, Christ was right in asking the question: ‘For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his own soul?’ “I therefore ask my fellow workers in government and the entire Filipino people to heed not the temptations of the temporal world. Let us, rather, answer the call to be true servant-leaders; let us accumulate riches, not for ourselves, but for future generations and for the life that comes after. READ MORE...COMMENTARY The macro economy and foreign policy rebalancing...

NOTES FROM EU AMBASSADOR: The Philippines and the EU working together to promote inclusive growth
[ALSO: Reforms needed to sustain economic growth – Economist Intelligence Unit(EIU)]


NOVEMBER 3 -EU ambassador Franz Jessen/Yuji Gonzales, INQUIRER.net file photo It was a great pleasure for me in September and October to meet many key players in the economic team – Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Budget Secretary Diokno, Finance Secretary Carlos Sonny Dominguez, Labor Secretary Bello and DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez. I was impressed by their explanations of concrete plans and actions to ensure a dynamic, sustainable and inclusive economic growth pursuant to the 10 plus 1 point economic agenda of President Duterte. In all meetings, the Secretaries reaffirmed their commitment to deepening cooperation with the EU, a cooperation that is driven by mutual interests. READ MORE...ALSO, Reforms needed to sustain economic growth – EIU...

ALSO: Duterte wants P74B coco levy ‘unlocked’
[RELATED UPDATE NOV 3: SC junks government bid to reclaim coco levy shares]


NOVEMBER 1 -DOMINGUEZ:
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said that President Duterte wants to unlock over P74 billion in coconut levy funds for the benefit of farmers “in areas where coconut is a major part of the economy”. Dominguez said that the funds frozen for decades will be used for “scholarships, better farming methods like intercropping or planting of new varieties”. But he said that since the funds had been frozen for decades, the government cannot pinpoint the actual beneficiaries but will instead use them to support “farmers in coconut-producing” regions. He said a new law is needed before the government can use the funds. Dominguez, who was agriculture secretary during the administration of the late President Corazon Aquino, said a law is needed so this money could be used by farmers “in coconut-producing areas”. READ MORE...RELATED,
SC junks government bid to reclaim coco levy shares...

ALSO: NEDA's Investing Coordinating Committee in China to vet dubious firms seeking deals for PH infra projects
[ALSO: NEDA creating
Filipino-style happiness index based on economy, environment & good governance]


NOVEMBER 2 -File photo
President Rodrigo Duterte has tapped the Investment Coordinating Committee (ICC) of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to vet companies seeking to forge deals with the government following reports that Chinese firms with dubious reputations want to invest in key projects. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the NEDA ICC would ask the Chinese government to designate and accredit companies that can undertake the projects. “The president is the chairman of the NEDA and we have an investment coordinating committee there and he has verbally agreed to designate that group to be the focal point of the management of our relationship with China,” Dominguez said in a press briefing in Malacañang Wednesday. “Once the president has actually signed an order to do that, the ICC will go to China and ask the Chinese government to designate a single focal point also in China so that the dealings can be government-to-government,” he added. READ MORE...RELATED,
NEDA creating Filipino-style happiness index based on economy, environment & good governance....

ALSO: World stocks choke on US election fears, pound powers on
[RELATED: Clinton tries to tap Beyonce's Beehive in search for votes]


NOVEMBER 5 -"US monetary policy would be expected by many to remain looser for longer in the event of a win for Trump," said John Higgins at Capital Economics (AFP Photo/Robyn Beck) / MANILA BULLETIN
Equity investors froze Friday at the prospect of a tight finish to the US presidential race, with the US S&P 500 sliding for the ninth straight session, its longest fall since 1980. Investors took refuge in safe havens ahead of the weekend that could bring more surprises affecting the hot race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, and amid concerns a Trump victory could bring sharp shifts in US economic policy. READ MORE...RELATED,
Clinton tries to tap Beyonce's Beehive in search for votes...


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PH 3rd most optimistic among 37 economies


NOVEMBER 1 -OPTIMISTIC. Filipinos are feeling optimistic about the economy.Agence France-Presse file photo

MANILA, NOVEMBER 7, 2016 (MALAYA BUSINESS INSIGHT)  By Irma Isip November 01, 2016 - The Philippines emerged as the third most optimistic among 37 economies for the third quarter of the year, boosted by strong prospects in revenues, exports and the integration of Asean.

These were the highlights of the global business survey of The Grant Thornton International Business Report.

MarivicEspaño, chairperson and chief executive officer of P&A Grant Thornton, said the results come at a time optimism in Asia-Pacific is “travelling in different directions this quarter.”

The report shows emerging nations like the Philippines are still much more optimistic.

READ MORE...

Españo said most of the Asean nations fall into this category and their higher optimism levels are evidence that the Asean Economic Community, established in 2015, is creating a belief that greater cooperation between businesses in these countries will become a reality.

OPTIMISM

Optimism of Philippine businesses stood at 84 percent in the third quarter, way above the average of 42 percent, but is 10-percentage point lower than the optimism in the second quarter of 94 percent.

Local firms are also the second most optimistic in revenues after Sweden at 60 percent which fuels the optimism in employment after India and Georgia at 64 percent.

Profitability-wise, the Philippines ranked 9th with a score of 58 percent, down 22 percentage points from the previous quarter.

But exports appear to be the Philippines’ driver as well as the rest of Asia’s exports prospects.

“The outlook for Asia as a whole is mixed, but opportunities exist for the most dynamic businesses to make the most of trade flows both domestically and overseas. New partnerships and agreements will open new doors, but firms must be ready to capitalize,” Españo said.

The developed economies of the Asia-Pacific region are driving the region’s export plans, while emerging economies have reported a dip in expectations over the same period.

The new findings suggest that businesses in these countries are reducing their reliance on China as a trading partner, in light of the Chinese economy rebalancing, and looking to new overseas opportunities.

The report reveals that across Asia-Pacific, export expectations for the next 12 months stand at net 15 percent in the third quarter – exactly the same as in the second quarter.

While the proportion of business in emerging Asia-Pacific economies is expecting an export boost, it has, instead, fallen from 14 percent to 13 percent.

Meanwhile, in developed Asia-Pacific economies, export has shot up from 15 percent to 21 percent, the highest quarterly figure ever recorded.

The Philippines is reported to have a rise in export from 20 percent in the second quarter to 24 percent in the third quarter.

“Export hopes among businesses in Asia-Pacific’s developed nations are higher now than we’ve recorded in any previous quarter. Despite uncertainty across the wider global economy, these firms are looking overseas with enthusiasm. It suggests a bounce in expectations since the Trans Pacific Partnership was signed in February, despite the threat of it stalling,”Españo said.

She added: “But these export figures also provide encouraging evidence that in many economies, reliance on China as a trading partner is reducing. China will undoubtedly remain an important export destination for many, but not to the same extent as in previous years.”

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ALSO FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Airport construction to pick up under Duterte BY MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO, TMT ON ON NOVEMBER 2, 2016 BUSINESS


the-filipino-times_manila-international-airport-authority-miaa FROM FILIPINOTIMES.AE

AIRPORT construction in the Philippines is expected to pick up between 2019 and 2022 driven by the current administration’s focus on countryside infrastructure development, Fitch-owned BMI Research said.

“We expect airport construction to pick up following a slowdown over the past several years, as the Duterte government focuses on infrastructure development outside of the Metro Manila region and as strong passenger growth places capacity pressures on existing facilities,” it said in an industry analysis released Tuesday.

BMI said it forecasts growth in the Philippines’ airports segment to pick up between 2019 and 2022 as construction begins on a number of upcoming projects, and expects real growth in the segment to average 4.9 percent over the same period.

This is in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval of several proposed airport projects, his promise to reform and speed up public-private partnership (PPP) program timelines, and improved relations with China, all of which will help projects overcome limitations in the Philippines’ institutional capacity, it added.

“We highlight further upside to our outlook given the sheer size of the airport project pipeline if we see considerable progress on the reforms mooted,” BMI added.

In particular, BMI expects real growth of the segment to peak at 6.2 percent in 2020 as construction starts on P125 billion worth of airport projects that are expected to enter the tendering process by 2018 and begin to be built between 2019 and 2022.

BMI said these projects include the P40.6-billion expansion of Davao Airport; P30.4-billion expansion of Iloilo Airport; P20.26-billion expansion of Bacolod-Silay International Airport in Negros Occidental; P15.3-billion construction of Clark International Airport Terminal 2; P14.6-billion new terminal for Laguindingan Airport in North Mindanao; and the P4.6-billion New Bohol Airport in Central Visayas.

MACTAN, BICOL AIRPORTS

It also noted that the ongoing construction of a new P14.4-billion terminal at Mactan-Cebu International Airport, the P7.2-billion Budget Terminal at Clark International Airport, and the P4.7-billion Bicol International Airport will provide underlying support for its forecast in the near-term.

“Most of the current and upcoming airport projects will be implemented as PPPs, a framework favored by former President Benigno Aquino 3rd, that has drawn significant private-sector interest but is also suffering from delays—of the 53 PPP projects launched since 2010, only three have been completed, according to the Philippines’ PPP Center,” BMI noted.

“Duterte’s finance minister Carlos Dominguez has promised to ‘dramatically review’ the PPP program, including accepting unsolicited private proposals,” it added.

BMI said given the significant volume of projects in the pipeline, improvements to the procurement process “presents further upside to our forecast which currently factors in some degree of sustained delays.”|

Additionally, it said friendlier relations between the Philippines and China following President Duterte’s state visit to Beijing in October will also lift the overall infrastructure outlook.

“Chinese companies will provide another source of cheap financing and construction services—as they have done in other Southeast Asian countries—and help accelerate projects that may not have received as much interest from other investors,” it said.


MALAYA BUSINESS INSIGHT

Duterte: Let us pursue genuine change By JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR November 01, 2016


PRESIDENT Duterte pays respects to his departed parents in Davao City today as he leads the observance of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day.

In his message to the public, Duterte said: “These two events remind us that, even though all things come to pass, our deeds will outlast our mortal lives. No amount of success, power, or position can ever compensate for the greed and corruption of human character. Truly, Christ was right in asking the question: ‘For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his own soul?’

“I therefore ask my fellow workers in government and the entire Filipino people to heed not the temptations of the temporal world. Let us, rather, answer the call to be true servant-leaders; let us accumulate riches, not for ourselves, but for future generations and for the life that comes after.

CONTINUE READING...

“With a keen appreciation for the immaterial treasures that bring us closer to God, let us continue to pursue an agenda for genuine change that will be for the best interests of our people. I hope that we cherish with fondness, love, and gratitude the spiritual inheritance left by our ancestors and loved ones on their special day. May the nation receive the blessings of God as we exalt and emulate the holy men and women whose lives have inspired generations.”

Since his arrival on Thursday night from his official visit to Japan, Duterte made a brief visit to Cotabato but has stayed mostly in Davao. His parents, Vicente and Soledad Duterte, are interred at the Davao public cemetery.

Duterte, according to presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, is satisfied with the preparations undertaken for the observance of the special holidays.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, meanwhile, urged the public to help observe a clean, orderly and crime-free holiday while maintaining the solemnity of the occasion.

Metro Manila police director Chief Supt. Oscar Albayalde said the metropolis remained generally peaceful as of yesterday.

“Tahimik, wala tayong nakukuhang reports whatsoever from Metro Manila. Sa ngayon ‘yung inspection natin so far maganda naman, maayos ang pagpasok at paglabas ng mga tao,” Abayalde said as he inspected security preparations in Metro Manila’s cemeteries.

He also said authorities have not monitored any terrorist threat but stressed the NCRPO remained on full alert status. He added that representatives from the Internal Affairs Service were making the rounds in cemeteries to make sure cops are in proper uniform and are courteous in dealing with the public.

SECURITY

The PNP yesterday diverted an ample number of its personnel from the cemeteries to the communities to keep neighborhoods safe during the long holiday.

The NCRPO has deployed 9,533 police personnel until November 2 to secure cemeteries, bus terminals, airports and seaports, and other places of convergence.

Also deployed were road safety marshals to provide immediate police and security assistance to the public and beat patrollers and explosive ordinance disposal experts.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is also on alert and intensified its intelligence monitoring and security operations.

The number coding scheme in Metro Manila had been lifted up to Tuesday while the number coding for provincial buses had also been lifted for November 2 and 3.

DUTERTE

I join the Catholic faithful as they offer their prayers on November 1, All Saints’ Day, and November 2, All Souls’ Day.

These two events remind us that, even though all things come to pass, our deeds will outlast our mortal lives. No amount of success, power, or position can ever compensate for the greed and corruption of human character. Truly, Christ was right in asking the question: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his own soul?”

I therefore ask my fellow workers in government and the entire Filipino people to heed not the temptations of the temporal world. Let us, rather, answer the call to be true servant-leaders; let us accumulate riches, not for ourselves, but for future generations and for the life that comes after.

With a keen appreciation for the immaterial treasures that bring us closer to God, let us continue to pursue an agenda for genuine change that will be for the best interests of our people. I hope that we cherish with fondness, love, and gratitude the spiritual inheritance left by our ancestors and loved ones on their special day. May the nation receive the blessings of God as we exalt and emulate the holy men and women whose lives have inspired generations.

I wish everyone a solemn and meaningful remembrance. PDU30

------------------------

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

The macro economy and foreign policy rebalancing CROSSROADS (Toward Philippine Economic and Social Progress) By Gerardo P. Sicat (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 2, 2016 - 12:00am 0 31 googleplus0 0


GERARDO SICAT

When President Duterte announced during his China visit that the Philippines was“separating from the United States” militarily and economically, he shocked his countrymen and the US too.

This development introduced a different message to many observers, including foreign investors and businessmen with a growing interest and commitment to the country’s future.

The President’s statement introduced an element of uncertainty concerning the country’s economic future. Indeed, upon his return home, it became essential to explain in order to limit damage.

As it turned out, President Duterte was articulating a pivot toward “an independent foreign policy.” He was not “breaking relations” with the United States. Normal relations would continue. He had hinted in a number of occasions that a re-examination of the country’s military cooperation with the United States would be taken.

However, in his visit to Japan (which quickly followed the China trip), President Duterte affirmed support of Japan’s security arrangements in the region.

The United States is strongly allied with Japan on issues of security in Asia and the Pacific, specifically the conduct of trade and navigation in the South China Sea.

The best clarification given as “damage control” is attributed to his economic managers.

The Philippines seeks a rebalancing of relations, especially with Asian neighbors. Put in this context, there is little alarming about the expansion of relations with China..

Economic uncertainty rises.

Greater economic uncertainty has arisen in view of the anticipated prolonged war against illegal drugs which will continue to demand resources from the government.

This has been aggravated by intermittent and unexpected opinions expressed by the President, often cursing or expressing strong opinions against his favorite targets, those who criticize the war on drugs.

Of course, another consequence of this is government’s relations with international and bilateral institutions.

The President’s reactions to criticisms leveled at the human rights aspect of the war on illegal drugs has led President Duterte, in his inimitable personal style, to use strong language and undiplomatic messages that involve institutions, and even other leaders and officials. This has created for him a special, colorful and volatile identity in the minds of other observers.

The President’s intemperate responses to criticisms have become the stuff of legend. They have accumulated a pool of impressions in the press and media reports, spreading beyond the national boundary and finding their way to international consciousness.

Some signs of increased volatility can be found in several short term indicators. We see this from the nervousness of investors as they begin to hesitate to look at the country favorably, because they hear of negative news.

SIGNS OF WEAKNESS

Three signs of weakness come to mind: (1) Stock market volatility has been high (2) Peso depreciation has been marked especially in recent months (3) Investors delay and hold back.

Stock market.

Stock market volatility is to be expected. Early during the advent of the Duterte administration, the market index rose, which was a sign of positive assessment. In fact, by late July to early August, the market peaked beyond the 8,100 limit. This was not sustained and the index fell back to 7,500.

Market volatility has been influenced by adjustment of investors to the impending interest rate hike of the US Fed. Additional fluctuations have been due to reactions to the uncertainty posed by presidential statements.

There has been a massive net outflow of portfolio investments in Philippine stocks. Some of the outflows have gone to other safe investment havens.

Peso depreciation.

The peso has remained within a range of 46 to 47 pesos per dollar for sometime. Since the advent of the Duterte administration, there has been a marked decline.

This is partly due to the massive portfolio net outflows. In September, the decline of the peso was significant. Prior to September, the peso was the most stable among the Asian currencies. But since September, the peso has become the weakest currency among its neighbors, falling to the 48 pesos range per dollar. Indeed, many Asian countries have tracked the US dollar or have slightly been ahead of it.

The weakening of the peso could be seen in a better light. It might induce more exports. For this to happen on a large scale, the country has to host a larger level of foreign direct investments engaged in exports to many countries.

FDIs hold back.

Recently, the president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines complained it has become more difficult to represent or to sell the Philippines abroad. It is alarming to a certain extent, because we have been building relationships with the region in all aspects. We tried to level the playing field, not only for bringing Filipino companies to Europe but also bringing European companies to the Philippines.”

Such problem exists for many other investors as well.

Yet, macro fundamentals still solid. Despite these problems, Philippine economic fundamentals are intact and solid. So far.

The balance of payments under current conditions is strong. The government spending program and resultant high growth rate could be sustained once the tax reform program is put in place.

To get the growth engine to work better, as many participants as possible must be included.

Need for broader economic partnerships.

Perhaps President Duterte will learn to be less combative with all outside institutions and take a more pragmatic approach in realizing a quicker path to growth. In actively seeking trade and investments and good relations with China and Japan, he moves the country toward that path.

But this should not be at the expense of shelving long standing good economic relations with the US. No country really can succeed well without developing good working relationships with the most important economic power.

China’ growth itself is dependent on a strong, progressive, and competitive economic relationship with the US. The same is true with Japan.

All the major economies in East Asia have strong economic ties in terms of trade, investment and finance with the United States.

We cannot afford to antagonize investments from the US and Europe. In general, addition is better than subtraction.

My email is: gpsicat@gmail.com . Visit this site for more information, feedback and commentary: http://econ.upd.edu.ph/gpsicat/


PHILSTAR

NOTES FROM EU AMBASSADOR: The Philippines and the EU working together to promote inclusive growth NOTES FROM THE EU AMBASSADOR By Franz Jessen (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2016 - 12:00am 0 6 googleplus0 0


EU ambassador Franz Jessen/Yuji Gonzales, INQUIRER.net file photo

It was a great pleasure for me in September and October to meet many key players in the economic team – Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Budget Secretary Diokno, Finance Secretary Carlos Sonny Dominguez, Labor Secretary Bello and DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez.

I was impressed by their explanations of concrete plans and actions to ensure a dynamic, sustainable and inclusive economic growth pursuant to the 10 plus 1 point economic agenda of President Duterte. In all meetings, the Secretaries reaffirmed their commitment to deepening cooperation with the EU, a cooperation that is driven by mutual interests.

READ MORE...

The Philippines is among the fastest growing economies in the region and the European Union is ready to contribute towards many elements of its economic blueprint such as: through the support to move millions of the current 26 million poor out of poverty and to lift the country to upper middle income level.

This is possible with the right policies in place to attract needed investments that provide decent jobs, promote human dignity, sustain development and add value to the Filipino economy.

The EU is also restructuring its economy. The global financial crisis made us realise how important foreign investment is to a competitive economy: President of the European Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, has announced the establishment of the European Fund for Strategic Investments, which is the centrepiece of the Investment Plan for Europe, to increase itsfinancial firepower and reinforce its economic strengths. The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) – the heart of the Investment Plan – is expected to mobilise € 315 billion over the next 3 years across the EU member states, benefitting more than 200,000 small and medium-sized enterprises.

This plan provides an exciting economic platform for investors to rediscover the range of investment opportunities existing in Europe through the Project Portal, as well as the efforts to break down barriers to investment through the Capital Markets Union and other EU actions.

SUSTAINABLE, INCLUSIVE

Sustainable and inclusive growth are key words in the plan. The EU is taking a lead on the fight against climate change. This is felt even in the Philippines, where one of our flagship programs is in the area of sustainable energy. In addition, ever since its initial construction more than 60 years ago, the EU has been focusing on inclusive growth.

How to make sure the small farmers could make a decent living, how to create jobs in developing regions, how to create a better economic basis in countries that were lagging behind. The numbers speak for themselves: in a world-wide comparison the EU stands out with its relatively low income differences. The Gini coefficient in the EU is about 30, much lower than what is seen in many other parts of the world.

The EU is well placed to use trade and investment policy to create new jobs that benefit companies and consumers in the EU and the Philippines alike. The EU is the largest recipient and provider of Foreign Direct Investment with around € 1 trillion worth of investments moving in and out of the EU every year.

While EU is the largest provider of FDI to the Philippines – in 2015, P90 billion of total reported investments came from the EU, 37 percent of the total – supporting an estimated 500,000 quality jobs in the country. The Philippines, on the other hand, is increasingly finding its way to the EU and I am happy with the recent investments in the EU for instance by Emperador, Monde Nissin, Ayala IMI, Globetel and PLDT. The International Container Terminal Services Inc. and Luka Rijeka d.d. forged a 30-year strategic partnership for the operation, management and development of the Bradjica Container Terminal in the Port of Rijeka, Croatia’s main seaport. The EU investment plan offers more such opportunities, based on a competitive euro and a strong market.

Together we can further build on these opportunities and this is how:

Free Trade Agreement: Free trade agreements will certainly and easily double trade and investment figures and support the Philippines’ road to prosperity for all. It will especially provide a comfort level to more EU companies to come into the Philippines, providing there is a level playing field while it will ease the access of SMEs to both markets. The first negotiating round for an FTA between the EU and the Philippines took place in May in a good atmosphere and with the goal to get clarity on respective approaches, ambitions and expectations in the different negotiating areas.

Generalised System of Preferences (GSP+). In 2015, trade with the Philippines doubled in the last 7 years to €13 billion for goods and €3.3 billion for services. With thanks to the GSP+ preferences given to the Philippines. Through this preferential tariff scheme, Filipino producers are now able to export more than 6,000 products to any of the 28 member states of the European Union at zero tariffs. Products that may avail of the duty free access include coconut and marine products, processed fruit, prepared food, animal and vegetable fats and oils, textiles, garments, headwear, footwear, furniture, umbrellas, and chemicals. More FDIs can be attracted in the sectors that benefit from these competitive tariffs.

European Union - Philippines Business Summit in the Philippines on March 10, 2017: Most importantly, bringing business from the EU and the Philippines together will facilitate more investment in each other’s economies. In the end, business depends on relationships, friendships and a shared approach when doing business, I am confident that the Business Summit will facilitate ideas and investments, especially for SMEs.

The Philippine Development Forum in Davao on November 8-9, 2016: The Development Forum will provide a great opportunity to understand the development priorities of the Duterte government, and to see how the EU’s development assistance to the Philippines is best used to promote a shared agenda between the EU and the Philippines.

The list can go on and on but the conclusion is that with the European External Investment Plan moving in high gear on the EU side and as the economic movers of the Philippines are bent in their pursuit to push for economic reforms (poverty alleviation, building a healthy climate to attract foreign investors, tax reforms and improving the labor force), both parties are in for a classic formula, a win-win situation for economic success.

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ALSO FROM PHILSTAR

Reforms needed to sustain economic growth – EIU By Prinz Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 6, 2016 - 12:00am 1 5 googleplus1 0


“Despite meaning well, the government will need to undertake other administrative reforms if it is to find success in ramping up its efforts,” EIU analysts Miguel Chanco and Roxana Slavcheva said in a report. File photo

MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte administration cannot just simply “build, build, build” infrastructure without reforms that will help both national and local governments to spend funds efficiently, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said.

“Despite meaning well, the government will need to undertake other administrative reforms if it is to find success in ramping up its efforts,” EIU analysts Miguel Chanco and Roxana Slavcheva said in a report.

While the government needs to fill a huge infrastructure gap, the EIU warned the challenge lies more in “reforming flaws in disbursing agencies” that haunted the previous government’s similar program.

Local governments should also be prioritized, the report said, noting that they also tend to have “weak procurement capacity and arduous permitting procedures.”


SCREENGRAB--OBG talks to Daniel Ventanilla about port decongesting in the Philippines; Oxford Business Group Published on May 18, 2016 Oxford Business Group speaks to Daniel Ventanilla, general manager of NYK Fil-Japan Shipping Corporation via http://news.abs-cbn.com/anc  on decongesting the Philippines ports and how this affects the Philippines’ positioning as a regional logistics hub.

The article, titled “Decongesting the Philippines,” was released Oct. 24, a few days before the government unveiled its infrastructure program that brought together five agencies to pursue road, rail and port projects and even “green” cities.

Separately, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said last Thursday the government is aware of the underspending problem and that reforms have been started.

“The challenge is how to translate the budget authorization into goods and services that benefit our people. In short, the ultimate challenge is execution,” Diokno said.

Dubbed “Build, Build, Build,” President Duterte’s infrastructure program promised to bring some P8 trillion worth of projects into the construction stage in two years and finished in four years.


DIOKNO

The National Economic and Development Authority had even cited the nine projects approved in Duterte’s first four months from an existing pipeline left by the Aquino government.

But EIU’s Chanco and Slavcheva said project approval is one thing, while spending for them is another.

“Successful implementation of bureaucratic reforms will be crucial in ensuring this expanded budget is spent,” they said.

They urged the government to continue reforms already put in place by its predecessor such as dedicating delivery units to address spending blockages, while implementing Republic Act 10752 or the Right-of-Way Act.

Citing Indonesia’s experience, the researchers said projects usually get “stalled” as a result of land acquisition delays even after they were already awarded.

Down the line, local governments should also be trained to better spend their funds, they added.

“The administration will need to oversee detailed adjustments to local governments...More generally, a tendering process vulnerable to failure frequently is in need of an overhaul,” Chanco and Slavcheva said.

Diokno, for his part, said implementing rules of procurement laws had been amended to avoid delays, while the budget will continue to act as a release document that once approved, would allow agencies to enter into contracts or disburse funds altogether.

Project monitoring will also be strengthened. “I am urging implementing agencies to upgrade their internal execution mechanisms to ensure that they keep in step with the sharp increases in their budgets,” he said.

“I would be lying if I don’t admit that my greatest fear is that we may not be able to spend the budget,” Diokno said.


MALAYA BUSINESS INSIGHT

Duterte wants P74B coco levy ‘unlocked’ By ANGELA CELIS November 01, 2016


DOMINGUEZ

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said that President Duterte wants to unlock over P74 billion in coconut levy funds for the benefit of farmers “in areas where coconut is a major part of the economy”.

Dominguez said that the funds frozen for decades will be used for “scholarships, better farming methods like intercropping or planting of new varieties”.

But he said that since the funds had been frozen for decades, the government cannot pinpoint the actual beneficiaries but will instead use them to support “farmers in coconut-producing” regions.

He said a new law is needed before the government can use the funds.

Dominguez, who was agriculture secretary during the administration of the late President Corazon Aquino, said a law is needed so this money could be used by farmers “in coconut-producing areas”.

READ MORE...

Dominguez said in a recent congressional hearing that he has already discussed this with the President.

“There is a Temporary Restraining Order in the Supreme Court and we will have to wait once it is lifted, and he (Duterte) wants to manage the funds but its utilization can only be by law….and I will support using these funds to provide scholarships, maybe in the state schools and colleges in the areas, and of course other kinds of support for the coconut-producing communities,” Dominguez said.

The DOF said that the fund is already with the national treasury and thus cannot be spent without congressional approval or a new law.

This fund, which was collected from coconut farmers during the former Marcos administration, has been locked up for decades in legal cases over ownership issues.

”The President has said that (the fund) will be exclusively used for the benefit of the coconut farmers,” Dominguez said.

“Now, we cannot say which particular coconut farmers because this thing happened 40 years ago. So the use of the funds will be dedicated to the areas where coconut is a major part of the economy,” he added.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

SC junks government bid to reclaim coco levy shares By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2016 - 12:00am 1 11 googleplus0 0


In a nutshell, the SC said it could not grant the motion simply because SMC was not a party in the civil case filed by the government to recover the SMC shares registered in the name of the Coconut Industry Investment Fund Holding Companies (CIIF). Philstar.com/File Photo

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has rejected the government’s attempt to recover the 25.45 million shares in San Miguel Corp. from coconut levy funds that are the subject of a 1990 compromise agreement.

In a 27-page resolution promulgated last Oct. 5 but released only yesterday, the high court denied the government’s motion seeking to include the said SMC shares in the assets to be forfeited in favor of the state in Civil Case 0033, which involves the recovery of ill-gotten wealth by the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies.

In a nutshell, the SC said it could not grant the motion simply because SMC was not a party in the civil case filed by the government to recover the SMC shares registered in the name of the Coconut Industry Investment Fund Holding Companies (CIIF).

The Court stressed SMC cannot be compelled to surrender the shares as it was not even “given a chance to justify, let alone ventilate, its claim over the 25.45 million shares it has in its possession even when it had volunteered to participate and moved to intervene in the said case.”

“Indeed, it is unsporting, nay the height of injustice a clear violation of the due process guarantee, to order SMC to comply with any decision rendered in Civil Case 0033-F when it was never given the opportunity to present, explain, and prove its claim over the presently contested shares,” Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. said.



THE UNITED Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB)

“Undeniably, SMC was not given the proper chance to be heard and furnish proof on its claim of ownership over the treasury shares. That was a denial of its right to due process. It should be corrected,” the ruling said.

The contested SMC shares were the subject of the Compromise Agreement entered into by the SMC Group and the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) Group that in March 1990. These shares were converted by SMC into treasury shares.

The SC also explained that the compromise deal actually had the participation and approval of the government since majority of SMC board members that forged the agreement were nominated and elected by government at that time.

“Indeed, for all intents and purposes, it is safe to state that SMC is an innocent bystander caught between the conflict between the government, certain individuals, and Cocofed over the shares. There is, therefore, no reason for the Court to now resolve the incident at bar to benefit the Republic at the expense of SMC,” it said.

The SC noted the case involving these SMC shares was different from the cases pursued by the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

“Unlike in the foregoing cases, SMC presently has a legitimate claim over the 25.45 million shares in its treasury by a commercial transaction not otherwise alleged to be conducted under any ‘illicit or anomalous conditions.’ SMC and the CIIF Companies (through UCPB) entered into a contract of sale in March 1986 and SMC paid P500 million on April 1, 1986 or several days prior to the actual sequestration…As the manner of SMC’s acquisition of these shares was arms-length and not made through public funds, the present issue does not fall within the ambit of our pronouncements in Republic v. Sandiganbayan,” the SC said.

Lastly, the Court cited lack of proof that the government offered to return the P500 million to the SMC Group in exchange for the reconveyance of the 25.45 million shares.

“Elementary rules against unjust enrichment, if not the sporting idea of fair play, forbid the Republic to retain the P500 million with the over 25.45 million shares it now claims. At the very least, everyone has a reasonable expectation that the Republic follow its own laws, foremost of which is the Constitution,” it added.

Six other magistrates approved this majority ruling: Associate Justices Arturo Brion, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Jose Portugal Perez, Jose Catral Mendoza and Bienvenido Reyes.

DISSENTION, INHIBITION

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justice Marvic Leonen dissented from the ruling while six others - Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Estela Perlas - Bernabe, Francis Jardeleza and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa - inhibited from the case.


PHILSTAR

NEDA's Investing Coordinating Committee in China to vet dubious firms seeking deals for PH infra projects By Alexis Romero (philstar.com) | Updated November 2, 2016 - 4:38pm 1 12 googleplus0 0


File photo

MANILA, Philippines -- President Rodrigo Duterte has tapped the Investment Coordinating Committee (ICC) of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to vet companies seeking to forge deals with the government following reports that Chinese firms with dubious reputations want to invest in key projects.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the NEDA ICC would ask the Chinese government to designate and accredit companies that can undertake the projects.

“The president is the chairman of the NEDA and we have an investment coordinating committee there and he has verbally agreed to designate that group to be the focal point of the management of our relationship with China,” Dominguez said in a press briefing in Malacañang Wednesday.

“Once the president has actually signed an order to do that, the ICC will go to China and ask the Chinese government to designate a single focal point also in China so that the dealings can be government-to-government,” he added.

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Dominguez said the setup would allow the Philippines to know which companies are capable of carrying out projects.

Previous reports said Chinese firms that were either blacklisted by the World Bank or were tagged in questionable deals were among those who vowed to investment in Philippine projects during Duterte’s state visit to China last month.

China Road and Bridge Corp. was implicated in bid manipulation in the Philippines and has been debarred by the World Bank. CAMC Engineering, meanwhile, was the contractor for the North Rail Project, which has been dropped due to procurement anomalies.

CCC Dredging, another firm eyeing investments in the Philippines, reportedly took part in the building of artificial islands in disputed areas in the South China Sea.

Feasibility studies

Dominguez clarified that there is no commitment yet that the companies would bag contracts. Quoting Bases Conversion and Development Authority chief Vince Dizon, Dominguez said the projects are still subject to feasibility studies.

“This project with one of the companies that supposedly had a problem with the World Bank projects is only on the feasibility study stage,” Dominguez said

“Once the feasibility study is done, according to Vince Dizon… these projects will be bid out and, of course, if a company is not acceptable in the international field, they will not be able to bid for the project,” he added.

Officials said Duterte’s four-day state visit to China have yielded about $24 billion worth of deals. The figure covers loans and private sector agreements and touches across different industries.

$6 BILLION FROM CHINA

Dominguez said China has pledged $6 billion worth of official development assistance and $3 billion worth of loans for infrastructure projects.

“Of course, you know, this is the first time we are doing ODA or official development assistance with China so we don’t have a complete list of projects yet. However, among the projects in our pipeline are a big irrigation project in the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao),” the Finance chief said.

“We have the P200-billion project for a railway from Manila to Bicol and we have of course, a lot of infrastructure projects within the Greater Manila Area,” he added.

Dominguez said the projects seek to generate jobs and spur development outside the Greater Manila Area.

“The infrastructure projects outside of Metro Manila will also connect the farmers and small businessmen in the outlying areas to the main consuming areas of Manila,” he said.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Philippines to create Gross National Happiness Index based on eco, environment and good governance By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 2, 2016 - 12:00am 2 36 googleplus0 1


Several countries use the Gross National Happiness Index to measure the contentment of a nation’s population based on several socioeconomic pillars such as economy, environment and good governance. File photo

MANILA, Philippines – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is preparing the creation of a local Gross National Happiness Index to measure the level of satisfaction in everyday living among Filipinos amid robust economic growth.

NEDA Deputy Director General Rosemarie Edillon said the baseline study for the special survey would be conducted next year to create the questionnaire and the metrics for the survey.

READ MORE...

Several countries use the Gross National Happiness Index to measure the contentment of a nation’s population based on several socioeconomic pillars such as economy, environment and good governance.

THE VISION: AMBISYON NATIN 2014 REPORT

Edillon said the socioeconomic domains of the Filipino-style happiness index would be anchored on the pillars of the Ambisyon Natin 2040 report that has been adopted as the country’s long-term vision on the improvement of the standard of living, finances, security and ease of transacting with the government.

The Ambisyon survey, initiated in 2015 and completed in February, revealed most Filipinos desire to attain within the next two decades a family-centric life “free from worry and hardship.”

This was further defined as having the following comforts: a car, a medium-sized home, the ability to send all their children to college, taking occasional trips around the country and having the time to relax with family and friends.

Filipinos envision a Philippines that is predominantly middle-class, enjoys good governance and peace and order.

The happiness index in the making would be done every three years alongside the poverty statistics, said Edillon.

As a special survey, it would not be a leading economic indicator but would be a strong monitor of the attainment of the goals under the Ambisyon Natin survey.


MANILA BULLETIN

World stocks choke on US election fears, pound powers on 0 SHARES Share it! Published November 5, 2016, 11:06 AM By Agence France-Presse


"US monetary policy would be expected by many to remain looser for longer in the event of a win for Trump," said John Higgins at Capital Economics (AFP Photo/Robyn Beck) / MANILA BULLETIN

Equity investors froze Friday at the prospect of a tight finish to the US presidential race, with the US S&P 500 sliding for the ninth straight session, its longest fall since 1980.

Investors took refuge in safe havens ahead of the weekend that could bring more surprises affecting the hot race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, and amid concerns a Trump victory could bring sharp shifts in US economic policy.

READ MORE...

Gold prices rose, the dollar dropped and US bond yields fell despite solid US jobs market and trade data that pointed ever more to a rate hike by the Federal Reserve in December.

Tokyo stocks lost 1.3 percent, London fell 1.4 percent, and Paris and Frankfurt bourses slipped 0.8 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively, as caution reigned.

On Wall Street, losses were lighter, with selling coming at the end of the session, leaving just one trading day before the November 8 vote.

The three key indices all lost about 0.2 percent, putting the S&P 500 down 3.1 percent since its slide began.

“Not good, but not as bad as it sounds,” given the relatively modest loss for such a streak, said Howard Silverblatt of S&P Global.

And Chris Low of FTN Financial said, “The last time the market was at this level was back in early July, right after the terrible Shanghai selloff.

“If we break through these levels technically, it could be a difficult month or two after that.”

Clinton, who has promoted mostly continuity with the political, economic and tax policies of President Barack Obama, still leads Trump in the race. But the separation between the two has narrowed to two percentage points and the outcome of the vote could depend on a handful of swing states the candidates are battling for.

“Investors are clearly nervous or worried that there might be a big surprise Tuesday. That’s the reason why the market’s been drifting down,” said Hugh Johnson of Hugh Johnson Advisors.

US economy shows strength

A solid US October jobs report gave more support for the Federal Reserve to raise rates in December. The economy added 161,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate dipped to 4.9 percent.

Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer said in a speech that the labor market is in a “powerful” recovery and that inflation is picking up, while not speaking directly to the Fed’s next policy meeting in five weeks.

While this would normally strengthen the case for a Fed rate hike in December, much still hinges on Tuesday’s vote, said John Higgins at Capital Economics.

“US monetary policy would be expected by many to remain looser for longer in the event of a win for Trump,” he said.

Pound up on Brexit politics

The British pound though powered higher on Thursday’s London court ruling that the British government would need parliamentary approval to officially move to pull out of the European Union.

The pound pushed up to $1.2519, its highest level in a month.

“The High Court ruling has introduced a whole new set of political uncertainties,” Rabobank analyst Jane Foley told AFP.

“However, since most of these are seen as reducing the chances of a bitter divorce from the European Union’s single market, the pound is better supported.”

Oil prices meanwhile fell again amid talk Saudi Arabia may raise output again to bring prices down if Iran fails to agree to OPEC production cuts.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Clinton tries to tap Beyonce's Beehive in search for votes By Lisa Lerer (Associated Press) | Updated November 5, 2016 - 11:51am 4 56 googleplus0 0


Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, second from left, appears on stage with artists Jay Z, right, and Beyonce, left, during a free concert at at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. AP/Andrew Harnik

CLEVELAND — The lights were bright. The beats were pumping. And the backup dancers were wearing blue pantsuits.

After raucous performances from Beyoncé and her husband, rapper Jay Z, Hillary Clinton had one simple message for the packed, cheering crowd at Cleveland's Wolstein Center: "Help us win Ohio."

Clinton's campaign is turning to a series of free concerts to appeal to young and minority voters not necessarily motivated to vote for her. Beyoncé and Jay-Z offered their own testimonials to the woman who, if elected, would be the country's first female president and follow its first black president.

Beyoncé noted that less than a century ago, women did not have the right to vote.

"Look how far we've come from having no voice to being on the brink of history — again," Beyoncé said. "But we have to vote."

The singer says she was thrilled that her young nephew was able to witness Barack Obama's 2008 election as the nation's first black president.

Now she wants her daughter "to grow up seeing a woman lead this country and know her possibilities are limitless," Beyonce said. "That's why I'm with her."

A series of hip-hop stars were part of the show, including Big Sean, J. Cole and Chance the Rapper, who encouraged the crowd to vote for Clinton — at the very least just to prevent Donald Trump from winning the White House.

"His conversation is divisive," said Jay Z. "He cannot be our president"

Big Sean recalled being in the audience eight years ago when Jay Z hosted a similar free event for Obama's campaign in 2008.

Now, he told the cheering audience, "we with her."

At one point, Clinton's famous quote that she "could have stayed home and baked cookies" flashed on the big screens. At another, the slogan "bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote" was blasted to the crowd.

Clinton offered her own praise for the show. "I am so energized after this concert and I have to say: Didn't you love the pantsuits?"


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