Britain’s top envoy to the Philippines yesterday warned that the Philippines stands to lose more foreign investments to its Asian neighbors if the government fails to immediately institute economic reforms and strategies that will boost the country’s competitiveness in the world market.
“The country is currently replete with challenges,” British Ambassador Stephen Lillie said in a statement. “The global financial crisis is putting a toll on the economy. Typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” have caused damage amounting to millions.
And recently, the ballooning deficit is likely to put the country in a precarious state.”
He stressed that more reforms should be underway to make sure that the Philippines will be at par with other countries in terms of competitiveness.
In the wake of these challenges faced by the Philippines, it is likely that it will slide further in competition ranking next year as indicated by Dr. Lourdes Sereno, executive director of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).
Sereno said that the Philippines’ standing will be worse next year as transportation and energy infrastructure, and education are areas where the country is likely to score lower.
She lamented the negative perception of the international community on the Philippines as global surveys reveal that the country continues to slide from rankings in terms of competitiveness.
From 71st place, the Philippines slid to 87th place, down by 16 notches, among the 133 countries based on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report of 2009.
Based on World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2010, the Philippines ranked 141st from 144th place.
In the World Competitiveness Yearbook by the Institute for Management Development, the Philippines also found itself in the lower echelon among 57 economies, at 43rd place, which is a slip of three notches. Still based on the World Competitiveness Repot, the Philippines placed last among the 13 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
International surveys showed that foreign investors are wary of political risk, including the risk of nationalization and expropriation, saying these are greatest government-related obstacles to doing business in the country. Local and foreign business chambers have also highlighted the need for addressing graft and corruption and continued reforms in the country.
Despite poor global standings, Lillie said he continues to have high hopes for the Philippines.
Lillie cited that the British government has launched a research, which showed that the Philippines had moved rapidly up the league table of attractive business locations in a survey of 500 global business executives.
This year, the Philippines hit the top 10, as number nine market among 23 non-BRIC or Brazil, Russia, India and China, emerging markets.
“But the good news also contains a challenge: to rise higher still, and to overtake a number of other old and new Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) markets which are viewed more favorably by international business.”
Although the Philippines ranked 9th among key emerging markets for British investors in 2009, the country still fell below its Southeast Asian neighbors in the overall rankings.
To help improve the countryfs sluggish performance, the British government under the Strategic Program Fund-Low Carbon, High Growth and Bilateral Programs has awarded the University of the Philippines Open University (UPou) the project called Improving Philippine Competitiveness through Policy of Economic Reforms and Strategies.
The project launched recently will capitalize on the support of lawmakers, the government, business community and other stakeholders to enhance competitiveness that will stir economic growth.
UPou Chancellor Dr. Grace Javier Alfonso said the project will highlight the importance of working together for a common goal.
Alfonso said that it is her vision to see stakeholders from the government and the private sector that would be able to come up with a proposal for the next administration to improve the country’s competitiveness. –Michaela P. del Callar, Daily Tribune