The World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia, which the Philippines hosted for the first time, concluded last Friday, May 23, with the challenge of making the growth being experienced in the region not only sustainable but also provide benefits to both rich and poor.
Philippine economic and government leaders also expressed confidence the forum succeeded in showcasing the country’s economic improvements in recent years to the rest of the world.
The three-day gathering was attended by more than 600 leaders from over 30 countries, representing a wide cross-section of sectors: government, business, banking and finance, academe, and civil society.
The problems, challenges and opportunities confronting the region, especially in the face of the upcoming Asean Economic Cooperation (AEC) were discussed.
Talks also focused on rethinking economic growth and seeking answers to the question: Can growth, as the prime objective of the economic system, be made more inclusive and sustainable?
The Philippine government made sure that the story of the country’s economic turnaround from sick man of Asia to one of the fastest-growing economies in the region was highlighted during the Forum and to make clear the feat was made possible through widespread reform and adherence to sound management and financial principles.
Many of this year’s WEF participants are expected to go back to the Philippines to put in investments and help provide jobs for many Filipinos, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
“Having known that the Philippines has accomplished so much, it now opens their eyes to what kind of investment they can see here in the Philippines. For those who have already invested, it opens their eyes to the fact that they can gain more from their investments in the Philippines,” Lacierda added.
Businessman Enrique K. Razon also expressed optimism that the Philippine hosting of the forum gave the Philippines “… a very much higher profile … more credibility. It exposes us to the rest of the world and that will benefit us all.”
For his part, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, interviewed at the sidelines of the Forum, reminded Philipine leaders that the efforts to further grow the economy would be in vain if poverty is not reduced.
He noted that growth statistics have been high but the poverty level has not dramatically gone down.
Photo: From dignitasnews.com