By Chino S. Leyco
No American company is leaving the Philippines, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said following his meeting with the top US business executives over the weekend.
In a meeting, which lasted for about one hour and fifteen minutes on Saturday, Dominguez cleared up with the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham) members the controversial pronouncements of President Rodrigo R. Duterte against the US.
“Basically we discussed how to increase employment, and their usual concerns,” Dominguez told the Manila Bulletin, noting he also assured the economic relations between the Philippines and the US will remain intact despite Duterte’s tough rhetoric against Washington.
When asked if there are American companies threatening to leave the Philippines following Duterte’s anti-US rhetoric, Dominguez said “No, wala naman. We told them, you should be a bit happy because the peso is depreciating against the dollar.”
According to the finance chief, he also asked US businessmen if there are threats against their operations in the Philippines.
“Has anything been done [by the government against you]? No daw. Is there any permit canceled or delayed? No daw,” Dominguez recounted, adding “if there any, tell me, call me. If anybody is harassing you, tell me. I will take care of it.”
Dominguez also told AmCham, the oldest international chamber operating in the country, that the Philippines’ “rebalancing” of foreign policy towards integration with its neighbors is not intended to cut ties with the US.
“We are diversifying our relationships. It just looks like against you, but in reality we’re just diversifying it,” Dominguez said, citing the the country’s huge potential in the ASEAN, Chinese, and Japanese markets.
“We have a market of 600 million [people] in ASEAN, 1.3 billion in China, Japan has 150 million, and then we have South Korea. It’s proper we also integrate here, it’s risk management. We need to diversify our money and sources of funds,” Dominguez said.
On Saturday, the finance chief met with AmCham Executive Director Ebb Hinchcliffe, Neeraj Bhat of AES Philippines, Don Felbaum of Optel Limited, Varinia Tinga of PMFTC Inc., and Philip Soliven of Cargill Philippines Inc.
Dominguez also met with Peter Hayden of Capital One Philippines, Matthew Slough of Magnetic, Sunil Bandar of On Semiconductor, and Elizabeth Magsaysay of US ASEAN Business Council.
In a separate statement regarding his meeting with the AmCham, Dominguez said the Philippines remains an attractive investment destination, adding the Duterte administration is committed to make the Philippines an attractive and competitive place for foreign investments.
The finance chief added the government is pursuing a policy of “economic diversification” to open more markets for Philippine products overseas, encourage more investments in the country, and create better-paying jobs for Filipinos.