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Phl draws investor interest in Davos forum

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines remains an attractive trade and investment option among foreign investors as reflected in the 47th World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

Lopez, the only Philippine government representative to the WEF, said the session called “High Level Session on International Trade and Investment” where he had the chance to present the country’s growth story and performance, as well the business policies and investment opportunities under the Duterte administration, received positive reception among international investors in the event.

He said investors approached the Philippine desk after the forum and indicated great interest to visit the country soon.

According to Lopez, the country’s participation to the WEF provides it a valuable international platform to trumpet its positive economic gains and prospects, as well as the planned growth-enabling measures under the current administration.

“The WEF is a very opportune avenue to advance current thrusts of the new Philippine government, and also as it chairs ASEAN, which also celebrates its 50th milestone anniversary this year,” the trade chief said.

Lopez also participated in the session on “The New Vision for Agriculture (building and strengthening multi-stakeholder partnerships),” where he shared President Duterte’s programs to strengthen agribusiness and higher value-adding agricultural products to increase farmers’ income.

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Lopez is set to attend bilateral meetings to engage with fellow economic ministers, including Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita, Swiss Trade Minister Schneider Ammann, Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and European Union (EU) Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, with whom the trade chief will discuss the coming engagements with the EU on Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus and the second round of free trade agreement negotiations.

The country is currently at risk of losing its GSP+ privileges with the EU given cases of alleged extrajudicial killings and plans to bring back death penalty in the country.

The 47th WEF Annual Meeting took place from Jan. 17 to 20 in Switzerland, under the theme “Responsive and Responsible Leadership.” More than 3,000 participants from nearly 100 countries are participating in over 400 sessions.

In one of the meetings yesterday, business leaders and policy-makers expressed concern about rising populism and protectionism, stressing trade is the best tool to fight poverty and promote growth.

“Protectionism is rising and that is worrying. Trade is the best tool we have to fight poverty and promote growth. However, trade needs to be more inclusive, transparent and values-based,” EU’s Malmström said.

Roberto Azevêdo, director-general of the World Trade Organization, said: “We should not talk ourselves into a trade war.”

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