Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez brushed off concerns about a sliding currency and weakening investor sentiment, pledging the government will take rational action on the economy.
The peso’s 2.4-percent decline against the dollar this year—the worst performance among Asian currencies after the yuan—doesn’t worry authorities as much as an “abrupt drop” in the exchange rate, he said in an interview in Tokyo on Wednesday.
“What would concern me is an abrupt drop,” Dominguez said. “The rate of change is the most important. If it is orderly, if it is rational, it is OK.”
Dominguez, who is accompanying President Rodrigo Duterte on a state visit, acknowledged that some investors, including those in the outsourcing industry, were nervous with the new administration and its approach to diplomacy.
“Yes, we understand that and we will hold their hands through the process,” he said. “We will do rational things that are to their benefit. To the benefit of everybody.”
Philippine officials are stepping up the defense of the administration’s economic and foreign policies, seeking to assure investors rattled by Duterte’s fiery rhetoric that includes “separation” from the US. The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines on Wednesday said it has received a large volume of messages from investors asking for explanations and whether their investment and visits to the country are still welcome.
Japan fits in the center of the administration’s foreign policy rebalancing as a valued trade partner, Dominguez said. Japan’s aid to the Philippines, the nation’s largest donor, does not come with political strings attached, he said.
“Other countries do that, and we think that’s offensive to our culture,” he said.
Meanwhile,14 ambassadors representing the member-countries of the European Union expressed their continued support for the Duterte administration’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda and bared plans to invest more in the Philippines, particularly in infrastructure, energy and civil security.
The ambassadors in a recent meeting with Dominguez cited their cooperation with the Philippines in implementing the peace agreement in Mindanao.
Led by Ambassador Franz Jessen, the head of the EU delegation to the Philippines, the 14 ambassadors who met with Dominguez were from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Austria, the Netherlands, Romania, Denmark, Hungary and Sweden.
They expressed their interest in “working closely” with the Philippines in implementing its 10-point socioeconomic agenda on inclusive growth.
The ambassadors were one in saying that they were looking forward to further strengthening the EU’s bilateral relations with the Philippines, especially in the field of trade and economic cooperation.
Swedish Ambassador to Manila Harald Fries said businessmen from Sweden were increasingly optimistic over business prospects in the Philippines and expressed interest in visiting Manila to explore possible investments.
Fries said a “record number of Swedish business leaders” would be coming to Manila in the next few weeks headed by Sweden’s minister of enterprise and innovation. With Gabrielle H. Binaday