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Reforms pushing for economic liberalization will help the country to get back to pre-pandemic level, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a report by Philippine News Agency.
During the webinar of Chinese Filipino Business Club Inc. (CFBCI), Lopez highlighted the importance of the country’s ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) law, enactment of the Retail Trade Liberalization law, and supporting legislative reforms such as the amendments to the Foreign Investments Act and the Public Service Act.
He said these reforms and the current situation of allowing businesses to remain open despite the spike in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases due to Omicron variant will help the country to grow at 6 to 7 percent this year, which was the country’s economic growth before the Covid-19 struck.
Lopez cited that foreign direct investments (FDI) hit USD8.1 billion in October 2021, which is 48 percent higher than 2020, and 23 percent higher than the FDI level in 2019.
“It’s really encouraging how foreign investors have again put their trust, their confidence in the country,” he said.
He added that exports grew by 15 percent to USD68 billion from January to November last year compared to the same period in 2020.
Exports level in the previous year was 5 percent higher than the export revenues in 2019, the DTI chief added.
“With all this liberalization going on — as you know, with the CREATE, Retail Trade Liberalization Act, with Foreign Investment Act, Public Service Act — we know that it can encourage more investments and more jobs. More jobs would mean more income for our people. They will become a larger consumer base for all your businesses,” he told Chinese and Filipino businessmen attending the webinar.
Lopez said that based on the reports of businesses during the less restricted alert level system in Metro Manila, establishments were operating at 80 to 90 percent of pre-pandemic level.
The stronger economic activities during the last quarter of the year could have helped the country grow by 7 percent for the fourth quarter of 2021, bringing the full year gross domestic product (GDP) to around 5.5 percent, Lopez said.
The country only needs to grow by 4.8 percent full-year growth for 2022 to hit the economic level pre-Covid-19.
“As you know, if the Omicron is not that bad, the momentum continues, we’re looking at 6 to 7-percent growth just like our growth before the pandemic. I mean the Philippine economy was there, we’re growing 6.5 to 6.6 percent before the pandemic, so it’s very realistic, and it’s where we are headed,” Lopez said.