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Aboitiz, Zobel de Ayala headline PHL business delegation to Davos 

THE Philippine business delegation to the Davos conference in Switzerland was led by the heads of some of the country’s biggest blue-chip companies representing the energy, property, consumer goods, transportation, and logistics industries, the Palace said in a statement.

Joining President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. at the World Economic Forum (WEF) at the Swiss mountain resort were Sabin M. Aboitiz, CEO of the Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, CEO of Ayala Corp. 

Other members of the business delegation were Lance Y. Gokongwei, CEO of JG Summit Holdings, Inc.; Ramon S. Ang, CEO of San Miguel Corp.; Enrique K. Razon, CEO of International Container Terminal Services, Inc.; Kevin Andrew L. Tan, CEO of Alliance Global Group; and Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairman of SM Investments Corp., the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said. 

The PCO identified the top executives accompanying the President after reports that the business delegation consisted of about 70 people.

Mr. Marcos arrived in Davos on Sunday afternoon.

The forum is hosting a country strategy dialogue featuring the Philippines, whose economy is expected to grow by 6-7% this year.  

Mr. Marcos has said he will promote the country as “leader and driver of growth and a gateway to the Asia-Pacific region.”

“One that is open for business — ever ready to complement regional and global expansion plans of both foreign and Philippine-based enterprises anchored on the competent and well-educated Filipino workers, the managers and professionals,” he said earlier.

In a briefing with the Palace press corps en route to Switzerland, the President said much of the business will take place in separate meetings away from the forum proper.

“Aside from the question-and-answer with the audience, the President is also looking forward to the ‘pull-aside’ or ‘pull-away’ meetings on the sidelines of the WEF annual meeting,” the PCO said. 

The Philippines faces challenges arising from elevated inflation, rising borrowing costs, and the follow-on impact of a global recession which will affect many of its export and labor markets.

According to the World Bank, the economy’s growth will likely slow to 5.4% this year from an estimated 7.2% last year.

The government has lowered its own economic growth target for 2023 to 6-7% from 6.5-7.5%.

A member of the government delegation, Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual, said he is focused on companies at Davos with active operations in the Philippines, pitching them on potential expansions.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Trade department said that Mr. Pascual held bilateral meetings with companies with Philippine operations on the first day of the WEF on Jan. 16.

These include Chevron Corp., US online education firm Coursera, Inc., Chevron Corp., US satellite firm Astranis, and global woman-focused startup platform She Loves Tech.

Mr. Pascual also met with the WEF’s Executive Committee and Head of International Trade and Investment regarding potential partnerships with the Philippines. 

“We have presented our country as an ideal investment destination in Asia. Similarly, we shared with them our improved business climate, which was fueled by the recent economic policy reforms that facilitate ease of doing business,” Mr. Pascual said.

“We see WEF as an opportunity to gather more foreign direct investment (FDI) that will complement our country’s economic recovery initiatives,” he added.  

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Mr. Pascual will join the CEO dialogue on the Philippines with President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. as the keynote speaker.

“The dialogue will highlight the administration’s initiatives on energy, food security, and digitalization to add resilience and growth momentum to the country’s economy through public-private collaboration,” the DTI said.  

Aside from the CEO dialogue, Mr. Pascual will also represent the Philippines in several World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial-level meetings on e-commerce, investment facilitation for development, and climate change ahead of the WTO Ministerial Conference set on February 2024. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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