JFC: PH can achieve 10% economic growth

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Growth opportunities in the Philippines could accelerate economic growth to almost 10 percent in the near term, the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFC) said.

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Henry Schumacher, vice president of European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), which is one of the members of the JFC, said foreign direct investments could rise to as much as $12 billion.

“[W]e continue to push for close to 10 percent growth per annum. And it will be $10 billion to $12 billion [in]FDI. I think that’s the kind of vision we should have moving forward,” Schumacher said in a JFC briefing on Tuesday.

Official figures are still a long way ahead of the JFC’s targets and Schumacher said the country should focus on ramping up manufacturing and infrastructure.

“We should focus on getting infrastructure growth… The agenda is inclusive growth. That’s why JFC came up with a policy on manufacturing. We still like manufacturing to be addressed more deeply. We believe inclusive growth and job generation will hinge in those two areas,” he said.

In terms of agribusiness, Ebb Hinchliffe, the executive director of American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham), said the Philippines needed a lagging agriculture sector.

“One-third of the workforce or 12 million employed are in agriculture. Also, 70 percent of the poorest in the Philippines are in the rural areas … Since we aim for inclusive growth, we should address the issues in the agriculture sector,” Hinchliffe said.

The JFC released a policy note on agribusiness, enumerating recommendations to the government for “bold inclusive reforms.”

It said the sector should be provided wider market access via new free trade agreements, easier access to finance, a freer land market, more infrastructure investments especially in post-harvest facilities, and rationalized extension services.

The five recommendations all focus on one goal, the JFC said, which is food security.

Schumacher said the government should also do something to replenish the agriculture labor force, citing that the average age of farmers in the country is 57.

“If we dont bring the average age of farmers down to 35, we won’t see any improvement. This should be addressed,” he said.

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