Are US Investors Interested in the Philippines?

According to the country’s ambassador to the United States, the Philippines’ economy has the “fastest growth rate since 1976.” But is this enough to attract foreign investors?

The Philippine economic growth has been in “a healthy expansion mode,” according to a report from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) because of rising domestic demand and many industries recovering from the aftermath of the pandemic. And while this year’s growth is expected to “moderate this year from 2022’s forecast-beating outturn,” undeniably, 2022 saw remarkable growth.

In fact, the Philippine economy grew by 7.6% in 2022—noted as the “fastest growth rate since 1976.”

Moreover, this 7.6% growth in the economy is much bigger than the projection made by the government, which was at 6.5% to 7.5%. It is also bigger than the growth of the economy in 2021, which was only at 5.7%.

Interested But With Conditions

Given these numbers, Jose Manuel D. Romualdez—the country’s ambassador to the United States—said in an interview with BusinessWorld that companies from the United States are now more interested to invest in the Philippines.

But there’s a catch: they are hoping for a more conducive business environment.

According to the ambassador, the increase in interest is due to what he describes as the “stronger than expected” growth in the Philippine economy. “The business community here said they didn’t realize how the economy has continued to grow despite the pandemic, while most countries have a downturn trend,” he says. “So that’s very significant.” 

How Can the Philippines Have a More Conducive Business Environment? 

Given the growing interest from US investors in the Philippines, how can the current business environment be improved so that it is more conducive for foreign investors?

According to Sanjaya Panth, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Deputy Director of the Asia and Pacific Department, one of the things the Philippines can do is to ease some regulations and limits on foreign investments. 

After all, according to the President of the US-Philippines Society and former diplomat John F. Maisto, foreign investors want the “best possible legislation” as part of the efforts of improving the business environment here in the country.

That being said, Ambassador Romualdez assures that the Philippine government is doing its part to attract more foreign investments in the country. “The government is investing a lot in infrastructure, both digital and hard infrastructure… All that will translate into more interest,” he points out. 

With multiple companies from the United States and other foreign countries expanding here in the Philippines, the interest from investors is very much evident. But in order to sustain this interest and turn it into actual investments and opportunities, the government and the private sector must work hand-in-hand in order to create a good business environment for everyone involved and provide opportunities for these investors to enter the playing field.