Tycoons laud Marcos’ Davos trip

Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The seven tycoons who went to Davos, Switzerland for this year’s World Economic Forum said they joined President Marcos at the annual gathering to help drum up trade and investment interest for the Philippines.

They are Lance Gokongwei, head of the Gokongwei Group; Ramon Ang, president and CEO of San Miguel Corp.; Enrique Razon, chairman of International Container Terminal Services Inc.; Kevin Tan, CEO of Alliance Global Group; Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairman of SM Investments Corp.; Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chairman of Ayala Corp. and Sabin Aboitiz, president and CEO of Aboitiz Equity Ventures.

“The team of seven Philippine businessmen led by Sabin Abotiiz, head of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC), came to help drum up trade and investment interest for our country,” Gokongwei said.

Gokongwei said he personally saw how Marcos articulated the country’s growth story and its potential.

“From my observations of the many sessions and talking to other Davos leaders, including WEF chairman, Dr. Klaus Schwab, President Marcos did a great job articulating the Philippine story; and on the emphasis on private investment and sectors as partners of the government in promoting Philippine growth,” Gokongwei told The STAR.

Gokongwei said he and his fellow businessmen are “proud and happy to support the President and his official family who are all working hard to showcase our country’s assets, advantages and unique selling points.”

Most international investors, he said, were not very familiar with the Philippines or had negative viewpoints. Marcos was able to turn around more than a few of these viewpoints, Gokongwei said.

Aside from accompanying the President, the tycoons also met with their counterparts in other countries.

“We’d like to believe we in the Philippine business sector, as by far the largest investors and employers in the country, are in a good position and credible to highlight where private capital can be productively and profitably invested in our country to meet the growing needs and expectations of our countrymen in quality and accessible goods, infrastructure and services abound,” Gokongwei said.

Zobel, a regular at Davos, said this year was the first year of re-engagement after the pandemic.

“So the timing for President Marcos and the Philippine economic team is prescient,” he said.

For the Ayala head, it is important to improve the investment side by attracting more investors to the country.

“The Philippines has a great consumption based economic model but we need to improve the capital investment side, be it local or international capital,” Zobel said.

Thus, he said Marcos’ visit to Davos, which is an important gathering of economic players, is exactly what the Philippines needs.

“The President has been extremely active across industry groups with the full support of his economic team and key business leaders,” Zobel said.

Marcos said the trip, though widely criticized by different sectors for its cost to taxpayers, was “successful and was an opportunity for the country to promote the Philippines as leader and driver of growth and a gateway to the Asia Pacific region.”

Aboitiz, convenor of the PSAC, said Marcos really wants to work with the business sector to create and strengthen innovative new synergies between the private and public sectors.

Established in 1971, the non-government WEF engages top political, business, and other societal leaders in an annual discussion to help shape global, regional, and industry agenda.

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