A recent survey from US News and World Report tabulated the top countries to invest in in 2018. The survey relied on statistics from the World Bank in conjunction with criteria develop by Donald Trump’s alma-mater, the Wharton School of business, as well as Y&R’s BAV Group.
The results demonstrate that South East Asia is the go-to region for international investment in the 21st century, with the perennially investment friendly Singapore coming in at the fifth most desirable spot while Thailand was close behind at number eight. Coming in at number four was Malaysia with Indonesia at number two. However, the most overall desirable country in the world in which to invest was The Philippines.
Clean Streets – Clean Country – Clean Investment
With one of the fastest growing GPDs in all of Asia, The Philippines is well on its road to becoming a new so-called Asian Tiger economy. This is due to several factors, all of which were key elements of President Rodrigo Duterte’s platform. First and foremost, Duterte has made The Philippines a vastly more attractive place not just to invest in but to do business in and visit. Crime is down, streets are safer and cleaner and the atmosphere throughout the country is now one with a happily open door to the world. This is largely due to Duterte’s tough stance on law and order, especially when it comes to cracking down on the narcotics trade.
Build, Build, Build!
Secondly, Duterte’s series of mega-projects known as ‘Build, Build, Build!’ have attracted positive attention from global investors. The projects are funded through a combination of public and local private finance as well as foreign investment. Countries that show a willingness to invest their own capital into large scale infrastructural projects are automatically attractive to foreign capital, as it shows a willingness to improve the ease with which goods can be moved in a country, while also demonstrating that the general marketplace is modern and up to date in terms of transport, energy and environmental facilities. ‘Build, Build, Build’ has been a profound job creator and the legacy of these projects will mean not only jobs for future generations of Filipinos, but also future incentives to other private sector projects that can grow around the initial ‘Build, Build, Build’ projects. A country with modern infrastructure is simply more attractive than a country ill-equipped for to handle the standards of modern commerce. Duterte has brought the country up to do in this way and it is already paying off.
Peace Through Prosperity and New Partnerships
Thirdly, Duterte’s foreign policy has prioritised peace in the name of prosperity and in doing so he has renounced policies of hostility in the name of old grudges. Duterte has agreed to forego hostility regarding territorial disputes with Malaysia and even more importantly he has embraced cooperation over confrontation in respect of the South China Sea conflict with Beijing. Duterte has stated that he wants to work with Chinese companies to exploit the resources of the South China Sea in what he calls a ‘co-ownership’ endeavour. Additionally, Duterte has opened up new avenues for trade and cooperation with Russia, Indonesia, Vietnam and India, while retaining a good working relationship with US President Donald Trump, in spite of hostility to The Philippines from the US Congress and deep state agencies.
The wider world has seen that Duterte is open to mutually beneficial business opportunities across many different styles of partnerships. This is a clear sign that The Philippines is a business friendly environment to all those willing to make a positive contribution.
Finally, through implementing anti-corruption and tax reforms designed to lift the burden of ordinary people and medium sized businesses, while taking power away from traditional business oligarchs, Duterte has proved that he has the wherewithal to transform Philippines from a place that provides opportunities for some, into a place that is opportunity orientated for all. This kind of dynamic and reasonable tax reform is as attractive to foreigners as it is to Filipinos, as it shows that the country is one that sees government finance as something that can work with rather than against innovation, all the while increasing purchasing power and living standards.
By cleaning up the country, investing in long term logistical mega-projects, opening up new doors to trading partnerships with important regional and global powers and by reforming an out of date taxation system, President Duterte has helped propel The Philippines to the top of the league table of countries that are viewed as attractive to international investors. It is a well deserved accolade that will work to the benefit of the country as a whole.