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RUSSIA COMMITS $2.5 B IMPORTS FROM PHILIPPINES
[RELATED: AFTER TRUMP VICTORY -Business optimism drops for first time in 12 years]


NOVEMBER 22 -Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the first meeting between President Duterte and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in this Peruvian capital turned out “good” as both sides agreed to strengthen bilateral ties. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./Presidential Photo
LIMA Russia has committed to significantly boost its imports from the Philippines to about $2.5 billion following bilateral talks on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting here. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the first meeting between President Duterte and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in this Peruvian capital turned out “good” as both sides agreed to strengthen bilateral ties. Lopez said Russia has offered the Philippines potential trade and investment partnerships in the fields of energy, machine engineering, energy equipment, railway, monorail and port infrastructure. Russia has likewise agreed to import $2.5 billion worth of the country’s agricultural products, the Trade chief said. Russia currently buys agricultural products and beer from the Philippines worth only around $46 million a year. “I think on fruits and other products, they can easily bring up the volume,” Lopez said. READ MORE...RELATED, Business optimism drops for first time in 12 years...

ALSO Trump’s business partner will be Manila’s man in Washington:  A conflict-of-interest standout
[ALSO: DOF approves P180M for climate change projects in Mindanao]


NOVEMBER 24 -Donald Trump and Jose E.B. Antonio Donald Trump and Jose E.B. Antonio
Among the conflict-of-interest questions swirling around US President-elect Donald Trump’s global business interests, Trump Tower at Century City in Manila’s financial district stands out. Century Properties Group, Inc. of Manila, the company behind the $150-million tower that’s set to open next year, paid as much as $5 million to use the Trump name, in a licensing agreement that’s common for the president-elect. Trump has at least 10 similar licensing deals around the world, each of which might complicate his administration’s international diplomacy, according to ethics specialists. But in Manila, there’s an extra connection: Century Properties’ chief executive and controlling stakeholder, Jose E.B. Antonio, was appointed last month to serve as a special government envoy to the US for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has vowed to expel American troops from his country and ranted against President Barack Obama. Antonio says he sees no conflict between his public role and private partnership. “My role is to enlarge the relationship between the two countries,” he said in an interview. Of his business tie to Trump, he said: “I guess it would be an asset.” READ MORE...ALSO,
DOF approves P180M for climate change projects in Mindanao,,,

ALSO: Peso hits 50:$1 level
[RELATED IMF: Thailand, PH best prepared to withstand pressure on currency]


NOVEMEBR 24 -AFP FILE PHOTO
The peso hit the 50:$1 level during morning trade Thursday. At the Philippine Dealing System, the peso reached a low of 50:$1 and a high of 49.94:$1 after opening at 49.95:$1. The peso yesterday closed at a fresh eight-year low of 49.86:$1, the weakest since Nov. 20, 2008’s 49.999:$1. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. yesterday attributed the weakness of the peso as well as other emerging market currencies to sustained strength of the US dollar, considered a safe haven by investors, amid global uncertainty. “Basically, the weakness in emerging market currencies is due to dollar strength. And why is that so? Because of expectations that interest rates are going to rise in the US. And because as the [incoming Trump] administration pushes for increased spending and more rapid economic growth, that may result in higher inflation and therefore higher interest rates. Because of that, we are seeing the flow of capital out of emerging markets and back to the  READ MORE...RELATED, IMF: Thailand, PH best prepared to withstand pressure on currency...

ALSO: By Boo Chanco - Still more fun in the Phl?
[RELATED: Miss Universe pageant to be held in Manila in January]


NOVEMBER 23 -BOO CHANCO
They are scrapping the three-year-old tourism promotion campaign that is just starting to catch the world’s attention. But it’s still more fun at the Tourism department since the new administration took over. They, however, seem to be somewhat confused on what to do. The only thing they are certain about is how to spend their budget for themselves. I heard they have given sizeable bonuses to key executives using Land Bank cash gift certificates. They also now have three more undersecretaries than is allowed by the Tourism Act. And there is also an explosion in the population of assistant secretaries and directors. Let us not get into foreign junkets because that can be justified as part of their job. But they invited over a dozen congressmen and two staff members of a senator to London during a recently held Tourism Market event there. The only way the congressmen contributed to our tourism promotion is by inflating Britain’s tourism numbers at the expense of the Filipino taxpayers. The most fun they are having has to do with hosting the Miss Universe pageant here in January next year. President Duterte had the correct instinct of rejecting that event, but they convinced him it is a good idea. READ MORE...RELATED, Miss Universe pageant to be held in Manila in January...

ALSO: DA cancels import permits - Move vs unscrupulous traders who evade paying import duties
[RELATED: Govt keen on transport subsidy for the poor]
[Related(2): Tax reform to lift 6M Filipinos from poverty]


NOVEMBER 23 -Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol INQUIRER PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol Tuesday ordered the cancellation of all import permits related to meat and plant products to fight against smuggling done through the “recycling” of such documents. “I will sign this (special order) within the day,” Piñol told reporters. “The canceled permits, subject to review involving myself, may be reissued immediately if everything turns out to be in order.” He said a technical working group has been formed to assess and handle the issuance of new permits. “If there are 1,700 permits out there, I shall have 1,700 people in that group” to assure a speedy process, the agriculture chief said. Clampdown Piñol clarified that the move was against unscrupulous traders who avoided paying the proper import duties by using the same permit again and again. READ MORE...RELATED, Govt keen on transport subsidy for the poor...RELATED(2)
Tax reform to lift 6M Filipinos from poverty...

ALSO: Tirades vs US - DU30 rhetoric short-circuits electronics industry
[RELATED By Wilson Sy: Winners and losers]


NOVEMBER 26 -Multinational semiconductor and electronic companies are holding off investments to the country, while some are losing orders abroad as fears over President Duterte’s controversial pronouncements engulf the country’s top exporting industry. Philstar.com/File photo
Multinational semiconductor and electronic companies are holding off investments to the country, while some are losing orders abroad as fears over President Duterte’s controversial pronouncements engulf the country’s top exporting industry. SEIPI president Dan Lachica said the concerns were an offshoot from the President’s “separation” statement from the United States which he announced during his recent state visit in China. “We have one member company which reported that it lost $50 million from US customers,” Lachica said in a phone interview yesterday. “For the others, it triggered a business contingency plan which means they’re holding back on investments and taking a wait-and-see attitude,” he added. To pacify and address investors’ concerns, SEIPI is requesting a statement from the President himself. READ MORE...RELATED, By Wilson Sy Winners and losers...


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Russia commits $2.5 B imports from Philippines


Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the first meeting between President Duterte and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in this Peruvian capital turned out “good” as both sides agreed to strengthen bilateral ties. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./Presidential Photo

More trade, investment deals in the offing

LIMA, PERU, NOVEMBER 28, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Alexis Romero & Richmond Mercurio ,November 22, 2016 - LIMA Russia has committed to significantly boost its imports from the Philippines to about $2.5 billion following bilateral talks on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting here.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the first meeting between President Duterte and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in this Peruvian capital turned out “good” as both sides agreed to strengthen bilateral ties.

Lopez said Russia has offered the Philippines potential trade and investment partnerships in the fields of energy, machine engineering, energy equipment, railway, monorail and port infrastructure.

Russia has likewise agreed to import $2.5 billion worth of the country’s agricultural products, the Trade chief said.

Russia currently buys agricultural products and beer from the Philippines worth only around $46 million a year.

“I think on fruits and other products, they can easily bring up the volume,” Lopez said.

READ MORE...

“We can only look up, I mean, nowhere to go but up because it’s really a relationship that offers a lot of opportunities because before, almost nothing happens when it comes to trade and investment with Russia,” he added.

Lopez said cooperation in the areas of training and supplies for law enforcement, counterterrorism, anti-narcotics, national emergency, education, finance and market access were also forged.

“We were able to establish contacts. We will set up a joint commission to work on the details of cooperation and follow through,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lopez said Philippine ties with China continue to soar to greater heights.

Duterte also met with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the APEC bilateral meetings.

“As a follow-through to the recent state visit, both leaders recognize closer ties. It is a new chapter and there is increased understanding and friendship,” Lopez said.

“The renewed friendship is definitely translating to a resurgence in Philippines-China cooperation,” he added.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Business optimism drops for first time in 12 years By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 26, 2016 - 12:00am 1 4 googleplus0 0


Preliminary estimates of the impact of a Trump presidency on Asian gross domestic product (GDP) growth showed the expansion of the Philippines would be reduced by 0.2 percent to 6.1 percent instead of 6.3 percent next year. MANILA, Philippines – Nomura Global Research said the shocking victory of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump last week may slash the projected economic growth of countries in the Asia Pacific region including the Philippines by as much as 50 percentage points next year. In its Asia economic monthly report titled “Timing is everything,” Nomura said major changes in US policy under president-elect Trump would add downside risks to Asia’s growth.PHILSTAR HEADLINE NOVEMBER 14, 2016 AP/ Evan Vucci, file

MANILA, Philippines - The shift in the foreign policy of the Duterte administration as well as the shocking victory of Republican Donald Trump pulled down the business confidence index for the first time since 2004, results of a survey conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed.

BSP Assistant Governor Francisco Dakila Jr. said the overall confidence index of the Business Expectation Survey eased to 39.8 percent in the fourth quarter from 45.4 percent in the third quarter.

“Business outlook on the economy turned less optimistic. This indicates that the number of pessimists increased but remained less than the optimists during the quarter,” Dakila said.

This was the lowest confidence index for the fourth quarter since hitting 48.3 percent in 2014.

Dakila explained the business confidence index normally rises during the fourth quarter due to the Christmas holidays.

For the fourth quarter, he pointed out there were only four times wherein the confidence index declined from the third quarter while there were increases in 12 quarters.

Dakila said businesses involved in international commodity trading such as importers and exporters was less upbeat outweighing the more bullish sentiment of domestic-oriented firms due to concerns over the impact of the country’s foreign and economic policies as well as the weakening of the peso against the dollar.

According to him, the last time the confidence index for the fourth quarter declined was in 2004 when it retreated to 18.6 percent from 30.5 percent.

BUSINESS OUTLOOK

Teresita Deveza, deputy director of the BSP’s Department of Economic Statistics (DES), said business outlook for the fourth quarter was less buoyant due to perceived concerns over the direction of foreign policies and economic reforms in the country.

President Duterte has announced the country’s pivot to China as he slammed outgoing US president Barack Obama, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, and the European Union for meddling in the government’s all-out campaign against illegal drugs.

Deveza said the respondents of the survey conducted from Oct. 3 to Nov. 17 also cited the weakening global demand, foreign exchange importers due to the weakening of the peso as well as the lack of supply of raw materials.

“Despite the usual uptick in demand during the Christmas season, business outlook was less buoyant for the current quarter,” she said.

She said the sentiment of businesses in the Philippines mirrored the less buoyant business outlook in Thailand, New Zealand, and France but was in contrast to the more bullish views in the US, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Netherlands, and Germany.

For the first quarter of 2017, Deveza said the business confidence index also slipped to 34.5 percent from 56.8 percent in the previous quarter’s survey results.

According to Deveza, the less optimistic outlook for the first quarter is due to the usual slowdown in consumer demand after the holiday season as well as the direction of foreign policies and economic reforms under the Duterte administration.

Deveza also cited the stiffer competition with the entry of new players in the market as well as the wait-and-see attitude of investors for the coming year following the results of the US elections.


MANILA BULLETIN

Trump’s business partner will be Manila’s man in Washington: A conflict-of-interest standout 0 SHARES Share it! Published November 24, 2016, 12:06 AM By Bloomberg


Donald Trump and Jose E.B. Antonio Donald Trump and Jose E.B. Antonio

Among the conflict-of-interest questions swirling around US President-elect Donald Trump’s global business interests, Trump Tower at Century City in Manila’s financial district stands out.

Century Properties Group, Inc. of Manila, the company behind the $150-million tower that’s set to open next year, paid as much as $5 million to use the Trump name, in a licensing agreement that’s common for the president-elect. Trump has at least 10 similar licensing deals around the world, each of which might complicate his administration’s international diplomacy, according to ethics specialists.

But in Manila, there’s an extra connection: Century Properties’ chief executive and controlling stakeholder, Jose E.B. Antonio, was appointed last month to serve as a special government envoy to the US for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has vowed to expel American troops from his country and ranted against President Barack Obama. Antonio says he sees no conflict between his public role and private partnership.

“My role is to enlarge the relationship between the two countries,” he said in an interview. Of his business tie to Trump, he said: “I guess it would be an asset.”

READ MORE...

Antonio told Bloomberg News that he visited Trump Tower in New York days after the US election; he didn’t speak to the president-elect, Antonio said, but he saw Trump talking with potential appointees. Asked about his account, Hope Hicks, a Trump spokeswoman said: “They did not meet.”

Regardless, Antonio’s dual roles as private business partner and official government envoy underscore the global scale of the potential conflicts facing Trump and his family even before he’s sworn in as the 45th president. Questions have been raised in two instances: Trump took a break from transition discussions to meet with three business partners who are building Trump-branded towers in India, according to media reports. And a spokesman for Argentine President Mauricio Macri on Monday denied a report in La Nacion newspaper that Trump had asked for help with permits for a Buenos Aires real-estate project during a post-election call with Macri.

Trump rejected concerns about his potential conflicts of interest. “Prior to the election it was well known that I have interests in properties all over the world,” he posted on Twitter Monday night. “Only the crooked media makes this a big deal!”

On Tuesday, during a meeting with reporters and editors of the New York Times, Trump said: “The law’s totally on my side, the president can’t have a conflict of interest,” according to an account of his remarks that Times reporters posted to Twitter.

1978 U.S. ETHICS IN GOVT ACT EXEMPTION

Few laws govern how US presidents must conduct their personal business affairs. Presidents are exempt from the 1978 Ethics in Government Act, an exception crafted out of the belief that presidents shouldn’t have to worry about triggering ethics probes when making hard decisions.

Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump aide, told reporters Monday that while Trump’s widespread business interests mean “we’re in unprecedented times,” he’s getting advice from “various lawyers, accountants and advisers telling him what he can and can’t do.”

“I’m very confident he is not breaking any laws,” Conway said.

The US Constitution bars government officials, including presidents, from taking payments or gifts from foreign governments or profiting from a company tied to a foreign government – but it’s unlikely that Trump’s arrangement with Antonio would violate that provision, said Robert Kelner, chairman of the election and political law practice at Covington & Burling LLP in Washington.

“Unless the foreign government was passing funds through that company to Donald Trump, I don’t think the emoluments clause would be implicated – it’s extremely remote,” he said.

NOTHING ILLEGAL

There’s nothing illegal about Trump interacting with Antonio as a special envoy to the US on trade and economic policy while also being his business partner – but it creates unnecessary complications for US diplomacy, according to Richard Painter, a University of Minnesota law professor who was President George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer. The arrangement means that as president, Trump may have to respond to requests from a business partner who has paid him millions, he said.

“We have a president in the Philippines who is clearly volatile,” Painter said of Duterte. “We don’t want a situation where the US president is financially involved with a whole bunch of his supporters. That will have an adverse impact on our policy and our ability to figure out how to deal with Duterte and try to put back together our relationship with the Philippines.”

US-Philippine relations have soured since Duterte won the presidency in May.

A key US ally in Asia since World War II, the Philippines under Duterte has sought rapprochement with China and tried to pivot away from the US In an October visit to Beijing, Duterte announced his “separation” from the US and vowed to resolve his country’s dispute with China over the South China Sea through talks and closer commercial links. “America has lost,” Duterte told a gathering of business leaders in the Great Hall of the People.

Earlier that month, Duterte had told Obama to “go to hell” after US criticism of his war on drugs, which has resulted in more than 3,000 people being killed since he took office.

Trump spent much of his campaign promising to counter China’s growing economic power, but also railed against US protection of overseas allies in Asia and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which was designed in part to stem China’s influence.

Some analysts have compared Duterte to Trump, a comparison Duterte rejected. “He’s a bigot, I am not,” Duterte was quoted as saying earlier this year. He changed his tone after Trump’s victory, saying: “Long live Mr. Trump! We both curse at the slightest reason. We are alike.”

The Trump Organization’s interests in the Philippines “might do something to smooth relationships” between the two countries, said Joshua Kurlantzick, senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Affairs.

(By Stephanie Baker, Ben Brody, Caleb Melby and Ben Bartenstein)

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA TIMES

DOF approves P180M for climate change projects in Mindanao BY MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO, TMT ON NOVEMBER 26, 2016 BUSINESS

The Department of Finance (DOF) announced that a total of P180-million has been approved for release to fund climate change adaptation projects in Mindanao.

In a statement on Friday, the DOF said the People’s Survival Fund Board (PSF)—the country’s national climate fund dedicated to finance climate change adaptation initiatives of local governments and communities—has approved a total of P120 million for two climate adaptation projects in Mindanao.

The Board also approved a P60 million grant for funding a facility to support local governments in developing projects that are scientific and focused on risk reduction to meet PSF requirements.

SURIGAO DEL SUR

The PSF funding will support the projects of the Lanuza, Surigao Del Sur and Del Carmen, Surigao del Norte local governments’ climate change adaptation plans.

Lanuza, a fourth class municipality, is proposing a total of P47.5 million for their climate adaptation projects. Of this amount, P39.1 million is proposed for funding under PSF with P8.4 million as local government unit (LGU) counterpart.

Del Carmen, a fifth class municipality, is proposing a total of P95.6 million. Of this amount, P80.7 million is for funding under PSF and P14.9 million as LGU and state college counterpart.

The key approaches to be taken for these projects include integrating natural resource protection and climate-resilient livelihood; protecting watershed, river, and mangroves; providing technical assistance to vulnerable farmers and fisherfolk, and mechanisms to reduce vector-borne diseases affecting agricultural dependent households; promoting community education on weather forecasting and climate variability to support decision making for agro-fishery practices; and building a regional center for research and extension.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd, PSF Board chair, said the government is taking concrete steps to finance its own adaptation initiatives.


DOMINGUEZ

“This is being undertaken even as the Philippines accounts for an insignificant share of the world’s carbon emissions but is nonetheless one of the developing countries most vulnerable to climate change,” he said.

Dominguez said proof of this is the allocation of funds from the national budget to ensure that local governments are able to establish or enhance their capacities to adapt to the multiple effects of climate change.

“Both the LGUs of Lanuza and Del Carmen are located in vulnerable areas where poverty may further worsen if no adaptation measures are undertaken,” he added.

Secretary and Vice Chairperson Emmanuel de Guzman of the Climate Change Commission (CCC) stressed that the PSF Board is ensuring that proposed projects for funding are reviewed by technical agencies and the CCC’s panel of experts.

“We are also ensuring that the process for LGUs to access the fund is made easier with the adoption of new guidelines for the submission and evaluation of proposals,” he said.

De Guzman said the CCC is committed to support the capacity building of LGUs to develop their local climate change action plans or LCCAPs and to access the PSF for recommended climate change adaptation and mitigation measures in their projects.

“Less than 10 percent of the country’s LGUs have such plans,” he said.

National Treasurer Roberto Tan said, “The Board intends to launch calls for proposals this November-December and another one in the second quarter of 2017. On top of that, we have relaxed the requirements and simplified the way that submissions are made.”

“The Board also acknowledges that LGUs will need all the support they can get to ensure that their projects will incorporate an adaptation aspect. That is why the Board approved an initial P60 million for the most vulnerable LGUs to support their readiness and help them prepare projects that will meet the PSF criteria. If there is more demand, we can revisit this figure, “ Tan added.

The PSF Board is composed of six government sector representatives and three NGO representatives.

The government representatives are the secretaries/heads of the Department of Finance, National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Budget and Management; Department of Interior and Local Government; Philippine Commission on Women, and CCC.

The current sectoral representatives of the Board are Renato Constantino, Professor Rex Cruz and Peter Perfecto, representing the NGO, academe and private sectors, respectively.


INQUIRER

Peso hits 50:$1 level By: Ben O. de Vera - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:31 PM November 24, 2016


AFP FILE PHOTO

The peso hit the 50:$1 level during morning trade Thursday.

At the Philippine Dealing System, the peso reached a low of 50:$1 and a high of 49.94:$1 after opening at 49.95:$1.

The peso yesterday closed at a fresh eight-year low of 49.86:$1, the weakest since Nov. 20, 2008’s 49.999:$1.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. yesterday attributed the weakness of the peso as well as other emerging market currencies to sustained strength of the US dollar, considered a safe haven by investors, amid global uncertainty.

“Basically, the weakness in emerging market currencies is due to dollar strength. And why is that so? Because of expectations that interest rates are going to rise in the US. And because as the [incoming Trump] administration pushes for increased spending and more rapid economic growth, that may result in higher inflation and therefore higher interest rates.

READ MORE...



Because of that, we are seeing the flow of capital out of emerging markets and back to the United States,” Tetangco told reporters.

“If you look at the movements of Asian regional currencies, the Philippine peso is basically in the middle of the range in terms of both the actual movement, meaning depreciation since the beginning of the year, as well as in terms of volatility of exchange rate movements. As I have mentioned, we are sticking to our current foreign exchange policy of allowing market forces to basically determine the exchange rate. But at the same time, we also do not want to see the exchange rate becoming out of line. And we don’t want to see too much volatility in exchange rate movements such that this can cause the disanchoring of the expectations,” Tetangco said. CBB

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

IMF: Thailand, PH best prepared to withstand pressure on currency 0 SHARES Share it! Published November 26, 2016, 10:01 PM FRA By Yumi Teso and Masaki Kondo


(Bloomberg)

Less than a decade ago, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) used to talk about Asian countries piling up too much in their currency-reserve stockpiles.

The global financial crisis turned that conclusion on its head, and now that US interest rates are poised to keep climbing, the race is on to identify which countries have the strongest buffers against capital flowing out toward developed markets.

A measure developed by the IMF itself shows that Thailand and the Philippines may be best placed to withstand further downward pressure on the emerging currencies in Asia, based on calculations taken before the Donald Trump-induced US reflation play roiled the foreign-exchange market.

The IMF last month forecast Thailand’s reserves at $163.3 billion at year-end, compared with the $64.9 billion needed according to the so-called Assessing Reserve Adequacy gauge, which incorporates criteria from short-term debt to money supply, imports and investment flows. The Philippines was heading for a $84-billion hoard, against a $31 billion need.

“In this broad trend of the dollar strength – or emerging-market currency weakness – the currencies of countries that have plenty of reserves will probably perform better than others,” Tsutomu Soma, general manager of fixed-income department in Tokyo at SBI Securities Co., said in a phone interview. “You don’t attack the currency when you know the monetary authorities have plenty of money to intervene. Instead, you look for a currency that has less ability to defend it.”

The measure shows Malaysia – not coincidentally the worst performing of the major emerging Asian currencies against the dollar this month – faring poorly by comparison, with a $100 billion reserves projection against short-term external debt of $128.2 billion, based on IMF estimates. Looking beyond Asia, Turkey, South Africa and Mexico are among those deemed more vulnerable by the assessments.

“Both Thailand and the Philippines increased their reserves in the last couple of years and have adequate buffers to intervene to smooth currency volatility,” said Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Singapore. Malaysia’s reserves are well down from a May 2013 high, and the slimmer adequacy ratio “limits the ability for BNM to intervene,” he said, using the initials for the country’s central bank.

ANZ is currently reviewing its currency forecasts amid the current sell-off in emerging markets, according to Goh.

Nations across Asia have already been deploying their reserves, in the form of intervention to prevent disorderly declines, likely making the IMF’s year-end projections unattainable. Even with its added resilience, the Philippines saw its peso drop to 50.00 per dollar for the first time in eight years Thursday.

There are monetary-policy implications for the currency declines, too. Read about them here.

Reserve accumulation started becoming a focus after emerging Asian economies were hammered by plunging currencies during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, when policy makers quickly burned through their holdings. A tough lesson during the global crisis last decade was that even robust reserves may not be sufficient when investors sought only the safest assets. The Federal Reserve ultimately shored up the global system through offering US dollar liquidity through swap agreements with counterparts spanning the globe.

This time round, it’s less fear that’s gripping markets than optimism about faster inflation in developed economies should the incoming Trump administration succeed in expanding fiscal stimulus. That’s accelerated fund outflows from the emerging markets. International investors sold more than $12 billion of equities and bonds in Asia’s emerging markets since Trump’s victory and the Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index reached the lowest level since March 2009.

While most emerging markets may come under the same selling pressures, those with weaker reserve buffers are likely to do worse.


PHILSTAR

Still more fun in the Phl? DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 23, 2016 - 12:00am 3 115 googleplus0 3


BOO CHANCO

They are scrapping the three-year-old tourism promotion campaign that is just starting to catch the world’s attention. But it’s still more fun at the Tourism department since the new administration took over.

They, however, seem to be somewhat confused on what to do. The only thing they are certain about is how to spend their budget for themselves.

I heard they have given sizeable bonuses to key executives using Land Bank cash gift certificates. They also now have three more undersecretaries than is allowed by the Tourism Act. And there is also an explosion in the population of assistant secretaries and directors.

Let us not get into foreign junkets because that can be justified as part of their job. But they invited over a dozen congressmen and two staff members of a senator to London during a recently held Tourism Market event there. The only way the congressmen contributed to our tourism promotion is by inflating Britain’s tourism numbers at the expense of the Filipino taxpayers.

The most fun they are having has to do with hosting the Miss Universe pageant here in January next year. President Duterte had the correct instinct of rejecting that event, but they convinced him it is a good idea.

READ MORE...

They promised the President that all the expenses would be taken on by the private sector, but that isn’t possible in an event like that. Security costs alone, not to mention expenses of the Tourism officials should be rather significant.

The idea of hosting Miss Universe can’t be blamed solely on the current Tourism Secretary. The Tourism Promotions Board had long wanted to host the beauty pageant, even during the watch of Mon Jimenez.

But the sensible MonJ knew it didn’t make sense. Dentsu, the Japanese ad agency confirmed MonJ’s gut feel.

In the evaluation made by Dentsu dated Sept. 4, 2013, the agency recommended declining the proposal. The agency computed potential exposure benefit against costs and concluded that there was a negative return on investment.

Dentsu pointed out there is very low interest in the beauty pageant in key international markets we are interested in. Even in the United States, the interest in the Miss Universe coronation night telecast has declined significantly.

Dentsu noted there is low interest in it in Europe such that the 2012 event was only carried by live streaming on the Internet. It is not carried live in Japan but only on cable after the event. In Australia, the 2015 Miss Universe pageant was shown in a secondary station indicating low audience interest. In UK, it can reach only 11,000 individuals and there was not enough demand for a broadcast station to carry it in 2015.


More Fun in the PHL campaign: Miss Universe Pia Alonzo-Wurtzbach visits the new Department of Tourism Office. Miss Universe Pia Alonzo-Wurtzbach receives a token of appreciation from Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo during the former’s visit at the new DOT OCTOBER 14, 2016 PHOTO

But when asked to re-evaluate Miss Universe this year, Dentsu gave a positive recommendation even if they basically used the same basic figures in their earlier memo. All of a sudden their estimated media value was more than costs.

In their Feb. 29 memo, they noted it would be “a rare chance to let a Filipina Ms Universe to pass her crown the next Ms Universe right here in the Philippines.”

But Dentsu quickly added, as if to protect Dentsu’s reputation, “do note, however, that there is low interest of audience in various markets and not all markets will broadcast the said pageant.”

Sources say the agency was pressured by the Tourism Promotions Board to endorse the pageant. But Mon Jimenez was still unconvinced and that was it… until the new administration came into the picture.

Dentsu was obviously pressured because right after they declared the estimated media value is higher than the expense, it followed with a paragraph that reads:

“The general feedback from other markets is that the Miss Universe pageant is not a significant event that audiences will be watching. Moreover, most of the markets do not have live telecasts and some do not even broadcast.”

Hosting this pageant will divert so much of the attention of our tourism officials from more important aspects of their work. They must worry about hitting those visitor targets and this beauty contest will not be a big factor in helping them do that.

I am told they are banking on China’s promise to send two million Chinese tourists here next year. If that happens, they will certainly hit their visitor target without doing much.

But veterans in the local tourism industry are not impressed. The Chinese are seen as a low yield market. Indeed, they warn that if two million do come here, there will not be enough rooms or facilities. That may imperil our high yield market in Europe, North America and Japan..

That brings me to the next point. Even with Sec Jimenez, I thought it was premature to go full blast with the international campaign without first working on the tourism infrastructure, like hotels and airports.

But Mon’s reason, which I also accept, is that the More Fun campaign provided a national morale boost that encourages more Filipinos, specially our OFWs, to be proud of our country and help sell our tourism in the process.

Ideally, the role of the Tourism Secretary is to get his or her fellow Cabinet members to prioritize tourism infrastructure. The Cabinet position gives the Tourism Secretary some clout with his or her peers. Otherwise, the position doesn’t merit cabinet rank.

I hope the current Tourism Secretary will go out of her way to consult with private sector stakeholders. Start by talking to Samie Lim who heads PCCI’s tourism committee. He had some good ideas in a recent interview with @inquirerdotnet:

“The infrastructure chain—airport, access road, accommodation, and world-class attractions and activities—has now become inadequate for the six million international tourists and some 50 million domestic tourists.

INTERNATIONAL TOURSITS ARRIVALS

“We now rank sixth out of 10 Asean countries in terms of international tourist arrivals. We have been overtaken by Indonesia and Vietnam.

“If we do not build our capacity for at least 20 million tourists by 2026, we will probably be overtaken by Cambodia and Myanmar and slide down to the 8th position.

“Even at 20 million international tourists, we will only have a 3.7-percent market share of the Asian market of 530 million by 2030.

“Although we have some of the best resorts in the world, there is the bad experience at the airport, the horrendous traffic, the questionable ratings of hotels, the low-quality equipment at tourist destinations. We also attract the mid-low end of tourists, who each spend less than $1,000 for the trip.

“We need to upgrade our facilities to attract the mid and high-end market that spends $2,000 to $4,000 per visit (per person).

“We are missing out on the biggest generator for tourism revenue, which is shopping. A tourist can buy several shoes, bags, clothing, jewelry, gadgets, but our prices are not competitive because we do not have the “VAT-refund system” for tourists like those offered by top tourist destinations. Take note a tourist can buy only one air ticket and one hotel room.

“They also buy dozens of souvenir items and food delicacies but our packaging is not good enough for gift-giving.

“With our limited budget, we should focus on what is easy to sell: Boracay, Palawan, Bohol, Intramuros, Cebu and Davao. And from there, we entice them to stay a few more days to visit other tourist destinations that are clustered about one hour from there…”

I have known Samie for years. He was one tough advertising client I once had. He knows his business.

I would have wanted to hear from the Tourism Secretary how she would respond to the points Samie raised to give me confidence she knows her stuff.

As Owen Cammayo of Resorts World summarized, the basics are the 8As to drastically improve tourism in the Philippines: arrival, access, accommodations, attractions, activities, advertising, academic linkage, and assurance of safety.

I think the Tourism department folks have to memorize the 8As to keep their focus.

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco.

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RELATED FROM REUTERS

Miss Universe pageant to be held in Manila in January


Kazuo Okada, (L) chairman of Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc. and Shawn McClain, VP of Business Development and Marketing at the Miss Universe Organization, take part in the press launch of 65th annual Miss Universe competition to be held in the Philippines on January 30, 2017, during a news conference in Makati city, Metro Manila, Philippines November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

Officials and organizers of the Miss Universe 2016 competition confirmed on Wednesday the next pageant will be held in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, in January 2017.

Miss Universe Organization Vice President Shawn McClain signed contracts with Philippine sponsors led by former governor Chavit Singson who will invest $11 million into the event.

Singson said he was glad to see the Miss Universe pageant "back home."

McClain said the Miss Universe Organization wants to host the pageant in Manila again for its "energetic" and "engaged" fan base.

The live broadcast of the competition draws 500 million viewers worldwide, including many from the Philippines, according to McClain.

The Philippines was the first Asian country to host the annual competition in 1974 and again held the pageant in 1994.

Filipina beauty queen Pia Wurtzbach holds the Miss Universe crown from 2015.

(Reporting by Reuters TV in Manila; Editing by David Gregorio)


INQUIRER

DA cancels import permits: Move against unscrupulous traders who evade paying import duties By: Ronnel W. Domingo - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:12 AM November 23, 2016


Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol INQUIRER PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol Tuesday ordered the cancellation of all import permits related to meat and plant products to fight against smuggling done through the “recycling” of such documents.

“I will sign this (special order) within the day,” Piñol told reporters. “The canceled permits, subject to review involving myself, may be reissued immediately if everything turns out to be in order.”

He said a technical working group has been formed to assess and handle the issuance of new permits.

“If there are 1,700 permits out there, I shall have 1,700 people in that group” to assure a speedy process, the agriculture chief said.

Clampdown

Piñol clarified that the move was against unscrupulous traders who avoided paying the proper import duties by using the same permit again and again.

READ MORE...

He said the clampdown was also against traders who bring in goods that were declared as another product of lesser value.

“For example, smugglers of meat products say their shipment contains offal, which carry a 5-percent tariff, when these are actually choice cuts that are levied at 35 percent,” Piñol pointed out. Offal refers to parts removed from butchered animals—including innards—that are considered not edible or useful in the market where they come from, such as Europe.

Asked whether this campaign might affect domestic supply and prices, Piñol said there should be no such result. “We are not hindering legal importation, only those shipments that are illegal,” he said.

But he said that once he has signed the order, any shipment would not be released until the proper import permits have been reissued.

Disruption

He said the order would also cover plant products like onions and vegetables, which are among the commonly smuggled agricultural products.

The bureaus of Animal Industry and of Plant Industry— both under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture —are the agencies that issue import permits for meat and plant products, respectively.

Piñol said smuggling of agricultural products continued considering the discrepancy of trade data collated by the United Nations and the Philippines’ Bureau of Customs.

In a telephone interview, the Meat Importers and Traders Association (Mita) Inc. said Piñol should clarify the process concerning this initiative to avoid disruption in the supply chain.

“We have goods at port, we have containers [at sea], we have invested good money,” said Mita president Jesus C. Cham. “He should not disrupt legitimate business.”

Cham told the Inquirer that the issue of meat smuggling has been “hashed and rehashed so many times for decades under different administrations.”

Cham said that while the world continually moved toward open trade, the Philippine government kept up with campaigns that hobbled the Philippine meat industry.

“I think he (Piñol) has the wrong approach on this,” Cham said. “The problem is with Customs and not the people who apply for or issue permits. For your information, all permits are tagged electronically so [these] cannot be recycled.”

New source of corruption

In a statement, the Samahang Industriya sa Agrikultura or Sinag “welcomed with caution” Piñol’s latest pronouncements.

“The alert has been raised several times and several illegal shipments have been seized in the past months, but no one has been charged in court,” Sinag chair Rosendo So said.

“We are just hoping that the re-issuance of new import permits would not be a new source of corruption for some people,” said So.

The Sinag chair said the review of the import permits should start with the accreditation process for importers.

Sinag research suggested that, in the past five years, close to P200 billion worth of agricultural goods were smuggled into the country.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Govt keen on transport subsidy posted November 21, 2016 at 10:00 pm by Gabrielle H. Binaday

The government plans to implement a transport subsidy program for poor Filipinos to compensate for higher excise taxes that will be imposed on fuel products, the Finance Department said Monday.

The Finance Department said it was closely coordinating with the Transportation and Energy departments to find ways on how to best deliver indirect subsidies to low-income commuters to soften the impact of the planned increase in fuel excise taxes.

Finance assistant secretary Paola Alvarez said the social protection measures might involve the issuance of Pantawid Pasada or cash cards to drivers and operators of public utility vehicles, setting up fuel depots with subsidized rates for PUVs or giving them cash discounts.

READ MORE...

“For public utility vehicles, we are now linking up with the DOTr and the DOE to come up with measures to best implement the cash cards or oil subsidy program, to lessen the impact of the planned fuel excise tax on PUVs,” said Alvarez.

Alvarez said the first package of the tax reform plan, which would include the fuel excise increases, would be implemented in 2018, giving the DOF and other government agencies a full year to devise ways on how to deliver the indirect subsidies to low-income commuters and other vulnerable sectors who would be affected by the tax hike.

She said the main feature of the first tax reform package submitted by DOF to Congress in September was the reduction of the personal income tax rate from 32 percent to 25 percent that would in effect exempt 4.7 million taxpayers, including 1.7 million minimum wage earners, from paying income taxes.

An additional 3 million taxpayers with taxable incomes of P250,000 and below would be included in the batch that would pay zero taxes under the tax plan.

Alvarez said to offset the revenue erosion from the PIT reductions, the plan would be complemented by a set of revenue-enhancing measures such as adjusting the excise tax on petroleum products and indexing these to inflation.

Other revenue measures would include expanding the value-added tax base and restructuring taxes on automobiles, except for buses, trucks, cargo vans, jeepneys, jeep substitutes, single cab chassis and special-purpose vehicles.

Alvarez said while there were observations that the tax plan appeared too “ambitious”, the government was intent on making hard-to-make decisions to ensure that growth truly was inclusive under the Duterte watch.

“It is ambitious in a way that our president is very ambitious also in helping the country. I think he is the only president who actually wants to overhaul and improve our transportation system, wants to bring about inclusive growth and wants the country’s rural areas developed,” Alvarez said.

She said the Duterte administration’s goal was to make the benefits of growth reach every Filipino by developing the country’s infrastructure, investing heavily in human capital development and providing social protection for the poorest of the poor.

Alvarez said the tax reform plan submitted by the DOF to Congress would ensure that the rich, rather than the poor, would pay more taxes.

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RELATED(2) FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Tax reform to lift 6M Filipinos from poverty BY MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO, TMT ON NOVEMBER 23, 2016 BUSINESS


DOMINGUEZ

DOF: Govt to bring PH at par with China, Thailand per capita gross income

Once the government-proposed tax reform program is in place, six million Filipinos may be freed from poverty, the Department of Finance (DOF) said on Tuesday.

Finance Secretary Dominguez 3rd said the program would help the Duterte administration realize its vision of reducing poverty incidence from 21.6 percent to 14 percent over the next six years.

The Philippines is now at a “critical juncture” where it can either choose the old and easier path of sustaining high growth accompanied by economic exclusion and high poverty rates, or the more challenging road toward reforms.

“Our mandate is to take on the more challenging path. Building on solid fundamentals, we must immediately bring relief to all Filipinos burdened with oppressive tax rates,” said Dominguez.

READ MORE...

“At the same time, we must raise enough revenues to close the infrastructure gap that makes production costlier in our economy than in others in this region, as well as enough revenues to provide the social protection needed by our poor and vulnerable,” he added.

The government must take advantage of “the beneficial point in our country’s economic history,” characterized by abundant capital, low interest rates, benign inflation, high business confidence, impressive credit ratings and strong regional support, the DOF chief noted.

“This is the time to act boldly,” he said.

Over the next six years, the government intends to bring the Philippines on a par with China and Thailand in terms of per-capita gross national income.

“That translates into liberating 6 million Filipinos from the grip of poverty. We intend to transform our country from a lower middle-income to an upper middle-income economy. That will mean raising per-capita gross national income from $3,100 to $4,000 by 2022. That is the level of Thailand and China today after decades of sustained economic expansion in those economies,” Dominguez noted.

If the momentum is sustained, the Finance Secretary said that by “the end of this administration, the Philippines should be well on its way to eradicating poverty completely by 2040 or a generation hence.

“By that time, we should have moved into the ranks of the world’s advanced nations with a per-capita income of $12,000. This is where South Korea and Malaysia are at today,” he said.

To achieve these goals, the Philippines must sustain a growth rate of at least 7 percent annually for a generation, which can be done only if the economy shifts from consumption- to investment-led growth.

Dominguez noted the Philippines currently invests only 20 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) while its high-growth neighbors invest between 30 percent and 40 percent.

“Studies show that in order to sustain high and inclusive growth, we need P1 trillion more in investment on top of the current P1.3 trillion. Expanded direct investments from our neighbors, a more aggressive public-private partnership program, and deepened social protection and human capital investments will ensure that,” the DOF chief said.

Such investment requires a series of revenue-enhancing packages, the first of which was submitted to the Congress in September under the DOF-proposed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, which is expected to generate a net gain of P174 billion equivalent to 1 percent of the GDP in 2018.


PHILSTAR

Controversial statements vs US Duterte rhetoric short-circuits electronics industry By Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 26, 2016 - 12:00am 7 771 googleplus0 3


Multinational semiconductor and electronic companies are holding off investments to the country, while some are losing orders abroad as fears over President Duterte’s controversial pronouncements engulf the country’s top exporting industry. Philstar.com/File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Multinational semiconductor and electronic companies are holding off investments to the country, while some are losing orders abroad as fears over President Duterte’s controversial pronouncements engulf the country’s top exporting industry.

SEIPI president Dan Lachica said the concerns were an offshoot from the President’s “separation” statement from the United States which he announced during his recent state visit in China.

“We have one member company which reported that it lost $50 million from US customers,” Lachica said in a phone interview yesterday.

“For the others, it triggered a business contingency plan which means they’re holding back on investments and taking a wait-and-see attitude,” he added.

To pacify and address investors’ concerns, SEIPI is requesting a statement from the President himself.

READ MORE...

“So what we are asking from our President is if it is possible for him to issue a statement to our multinationals here and to our US customers just to assure them. A letter or a statement that we can issue to those customers and investors that it is business as usual and they have nothing to fear,” Lachica said.

Duterte has been clear and firm in his stance about aligning the Philippines with China. During his visit in Beijing last month, the President announced his “separation” from the US.

Given these prevailing anxieties from the semiconductor and electronic firms and their clients, Lachica said the industry is likely to end up on the “lower end” of its exports target this year.

SEIPI is targeting a two to five percent electronics export growth for the country this year.

In 2015, the country’s total electronics exports rose 7.9 percent to $28.92 billion from $26.79 billion the previous year.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR By Wilson Sy

Winners and losers PHILEQUITY CORNER By Wilson Sy (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 28, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Wilson Sy

This has been a year of surprises, a year of the unexpected.

After going through Brexit, investors the world over are now digesting the impact of Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the recently concluded US presidential elections.

While Trump is undoubtedly basking in his come from behind win, his triumph has created both winners and losers.

And the winners are… Clearly, the winner in Trump’s victory is the US stock market. The Dow Jones index, S&P 500, Nasdaq and Russell 2000 all made all-time highs.

This is a historic event because the last time all major indices made all-time highs at the same time was in 1999. Trump’s declaration to boost fiscal and infrastructure spending sent US financials, infrastructure and basic materials stocks higher by double digit percentages in three weeks.

In Japan, the Nikkei rebounded 24 percent from the low and is now at 10-month highs. Another clear winner is the US dollar. The dollar index strengthened significantly, rising to highs not seen since 2003.

Orange is the New Black

The younger generation will recognize the subtitle above to be the name of an Emmy award-winning TV series about a woman sentenced to prison. Produced by Lionsgate Television in 2013 and distributed by Netflix, the series is on its fourth season already. However, our subtitle also refers to Trump. Because of the significance of his victory and his facial color, some analysts have dubbed him an orange swan.

With his win being a black swan event for many stock markets the world over, it seems that even in the investment world, orange is the new black.

And the losers are…

Although there have been clear winners in the Trump trade, Trump’s victory was a black swan event for emerging market equities, currencies and bonds. EEM, an emerging markets ETF listed in the US, has lost six percent since Trump won. On the currency side, almost all currencies fell against the US dollar.

One of the worst hit was the Mexican peso, which depreciated by 12 percent in just one day to reach an all-time low against the US dollar. During his campaign, Trump threatened to build a wall on the Mexican border and implement tighter immigration policies.

Expectations of higher inflation brought about by Trump’s policies also sent bonds sharply lower, with the US 10-year bond yield rising from 1.7 percent to 2.3 percent in just a week. Emerging market bonds fell even more than their US counterparts.

Phl stock market one of the biggest losers Unfortunately, the Philippine stock market was one of the biggest losers. In the table below, we show the performance of the various Asian stock markets since the start of the year and since Trump won (Trump to date).

As can be seen in the table below, since Trump’s victory on Nov. 8, the PSEi has lost 5.7 percent, the second worst performance in Asia after Indonesia. In fact, with this recent drop, the Philippine stock market has given up all of its gains in 2016.

Asian Equity Indices – Year to date and Trump to date returns

Phl peso touches 50

In previous articles, we wrote about how negative news flow and anti-West rhetoric sunk the peso in September, bringing it to a seven-year low.

However, this time around, the peso is suffering from dollar strength brought about by Trump’s victory. This double whammy sent the peso to the 50/$ level last week, an exchange rate not seen since the 2008 US financial crisis.

Trump victory exacerbates peso weakness

As can be seen in the table below, all Asian currencies depreciated against the US dollar ever since Trump won. The Trump victory exacerbated the fall of an already weakening peso.

On a YTD basis, the peso is the second worst performing Asian currency after the Chinese yuan because of its 4.1-percent drop in September. The move in September was particularly alarming because, as shown in the table, other Asian currencies were strengthening at that time.

Moving in the same direction as our neighbors is nothing to worry about. However, what will be of concern is if the peso depreciates sharply to the point it starts to destabilize the economy.

Performance of Asian currencies across different time frames

Silver lining

Fortunately, there is a silver lining to the peso’s weakness. First, the purchasing power of OFWs will increase as the peso weakens. Second, our BPOs will become more competitive as the cost of locating here becomes cheaper. Third, our exports will become more competitive. Finally, tourism will get a boost as we entice tourists, especially those from China.

Build, Build, Build

With the sharp correction our stock market is experiencing, it seems investors are forgetting the Philippines just reported GDP growth of 7.1 percent in the third quarter, the fastest in Asia as of this writing, beating even China.

 Moreover, the government has unveiled its “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program which should boost growth significantly in the coming years. The first phase of the ambitious tax reform package has also been submitted to Congress, with the Department of Finance expected to file the next three packages in 2017.

Adjustment phase

With investors and traders around the world caught flat-footed by Trump’s monumental victory, asset classes are now going through an adjustment phase.

Policy uncertainty will cause volatility to remain heightened until Trump can clarify his policies when he is inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. Higher interest rates and Fed policy tightening may continue to weigh on emerging market currencies.

We hope the government’s solid economic agenda and the Philippines’ high GDP growth will offset the negative sentiment prevailing in the local financial markets.

Philequity Management is the fund manager of the leading mutual funds in the Philippines. Visit www.philequity.net to learn more about Philequity’s managed funds or to view previous articles. For inquiries or to send feedback, please call (02) 689-8080 or email ask@philequity.net.


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