June 19, 2018, 4:34 pm
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Gov’t sees improved competitiveness

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez believes the Philippines will be able to improve its ranking in competitiveness as the country continues to grow fast amid the government’s infrastructure buildup and reforms in easing doing business.

Lopez said the growing middle-class and the demographic sweet spot of the country would continue to attract investors.

Lopez found it “hard to believe” the Philippines slipped nine notches in the 2018 World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) at 50th out of 63 countries from last year’s 2017.

“We have one of the fastest growth (rates) in the world.. faster than most peers. And infrastructure improvements have been done on some and are continuing,” Lopez said in a text message to reporters.

Lopez compared to other surveys, the International Institute of Management Development which conducted the WCY tracks only 63 countries.

This is compared to the World Economic Forum which tracks 137 countries and the World Bank/International Finance Corp.’s 190.

The Philippines’  ranking dropped in all four main factors in assessing competitiveness:  economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency, and infrastructure. 

Among Asia-Pacific economies, the Philippines ranked 13th, down from 11th in 2017.

The Philippines’ economic performance ranking dropped from 26th in 2017 to 50th in 2018. Among the sub-factors under economic performance, domestic economy declined from 12th to 24th, international trade from 44th to 52nd, employment from fourth to 32nd, and international investment from 47th to 48th.

Although real GDP grew by 6.7 percent – the fifth highest in WCY – other macroeconomic indicators overcame this improvement.

Malacanang yesterday said the Duterte government is already addressing the issues that have affected its competitiveness standing.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Malacanang has taken note of the results of the WCY  and its observations that “the Philippines faces key challenges in the following areas: investing in quality infrastructure; increasing investment in human capital (health and education); strengthening institutions; increasing digital competitiveness; and mitigating political risks.”

Roque said on infrastructure,  government has astarted to roll out big-ticket Build, Build, Build infrastructure projects like the Luzon Bypass project.

On human capital, the country has made the educational system in the Philippines at par with the global standards by continuing the K-12 Program, and provided free medicine to the poor.  

To increase digital competitiveness, Roque said the government has ordered the selection of a third telecommunications player to push for better internet services and lower prices for Filipino consumers. 

He said President Duterte has also prioritized a shift to federalism style of government to spur regional development and lessen political risk “given that local governments will now have power over their own resources and create policies that will cater to their constituents’ needs.” 
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