The Philippines’ “economic emergence” is being propelled in part by South Korea, a Cabinet official said, via funding support for key projects under the Duterte administration’s “Build Build Build” program.
Speaking before South Korean business leaders, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd expressed confidence that bilateral ties would continue to grow, citing a longstanding relationship.
South Korea has agreed to fund the Panguil Bay Bridge and new Cebu International Container Port projects, which are both scheduled to begin this year and due for completion in 2020.
Dominguez noted that South Korea was also the Philippines’ sixth largest source of official development assistance, with loans and grants amounting to $570.6 million as of December 2017.
It is also a top source of tourists and the country’s fifth major trading partner, he added.
The Finance department said 1.6 million Koreans visited the Philippines last year, representing a quarter of total foreign tourist arrivals and an increase of 9 percent over the previous year.
Total bilateral trade with South Korea, meanwhile, amounted to $10.61 billion last year, it added.
Dominguez, who spoke at the Korea Business Forum in Seoul, said: “We have long admired South Korea’s sterling achievement in economic development.”
“We know that there are many complementarities between our two economies. We are confident our trade and investment relationship can grow more robust in the coming period.”
He noted that the Duterte administration’s strategy of investing heavily in infrastructure and implementing tax reform was similar to what South Korea undertook to grow its economy.
“I am sure you in Korea are very familiar with this type of economic growth because this was what you did in the ‘70s and ‘80s — you invested a lot of money in your own infrastructure and that’s why you are where you are today,” Dominguez said.
As for tax reform, “all of these were done by South Korea, again, in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s,” he added.
To expand trade and investment relations with South Korea and other countries, the Cabinet official said the Philippines was committed to improving the ease of doing business, respect the sanctity of contracts and promote a more conducive climate for investments.
Dominguez also painted a general picture of the Philippines’ economic gains by underscoring the sustained 6.5 percent or better growth in the last 10 quarters; significant growth in the manufacturing, industry and construction sectors; and the government’s plan to increase infrastructure investments from 6.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2018 to 7.3 percent by 2022.