GLOBAL company executives will remain watchful of the US economy for direction, but Asia-Pacific CEOs will expand their operations in Southeast Asia further, with most of the Philippine-based CEOs increasing their investments domestically, the head of PwC Philippines said.
Alex Cabrera, chairman and senior partner at Isla Lipana & Co./PwC Philippines, told delegates to The Manila Times 5th Business Forum in Davao City that PwC’s 2016-2017 APEC survey found that CEOs in the region have less confidence in increasing profits from their businesses overseas.
The CEOs also have less appetite for risk-taking and less confidence in launching a new product or going into a new line of business, the survey said.
“The CEOs now have less confidence, so they’re holding off,” Cabrera said in his presentation at the forum on Friday.
The survey, added that that foreign direct investment (FDI) was still rising, with more than 50 percent being poured into APEC economies.
“While the Philippines is not on top of the list for FDIs from new investors coming from APEC economies, 72 percent of CEOs already in the country will increase their investments here,” Cabrera said.
That compares with 52 percent for Vietnam, 47 percent each for Indonesia and Singapore, and 35 percent for Japan.
Cabrera said the Philippines has to make the right policy moves to translate that into reality.
“We must have a healthy regional environment if we want to attract the CEOs to invest here,” Cabrera said in his presentation titled “PwC APEC CEO Survey and Conversations: Fast-Growth … Slow-Growth World.”
Cabrera cited the other top factors that CEOs operating in the Philippines are looking at when they make their investment decisions, such as expanding domestic market, a favorable tax environment, a skilled talent pool and advanced basic infrastructure.
He called for a focus on the agricultural sector and to leverage social enterprises, improve investment framework, and open up the economy through liberalization.”
There must also be “transparency and aboveboard dealings with all government agencies, starting at the ports, and a friendlier and fair tax environment, assessment and refund,” he added.
He also stressed the importance of leveraging technology and teaching applied sciences in schools; the ease of doing business all over the country, and the building of a better Visayas-Mindanao (VisMin) region.
Citing the government’s strategy in rebalancing growth and development opportunities across sectors and socioeconomic groups nationwide, Cabrera said that VisMin has six hotspot areas for investments, namely, Iloilo City, Bacolod, Metro Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Metro Davao and General Santos City.
VisMin’s focus industries – according to a study titled “Building Better VisMin,” which Cabrera quoted – include manufacturing, infrastructure, retail, real estate, tourism and agro-tourism, as well as agriculture, fishery and forestry.
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Chairman and Senior Partner, PwC Philippines
HE has been chairman and senior partner of PwC Philippines, a provider of assurance, tax, and advisory services, since 2013, and is currently a board member for PwC’s Southeast Asia Regional Consulting Practice. Before that, Cabrera was the firm’s tax managing partner. Under his helm, PwC Philippines was recognized with an advanced rating in integrity by Integrity Initiative, a private-sector-led campaign aimed to strengthen ethical standards in business. He is also the managing partner of Cabrera & Company, a law firm he founded in 2002. As a lawyer and a certified public accountant, Cabrera specializes in tax planning as well as business restructuring and reorganization. His key expertise involves delivering an integrated tax, legal, and accounting advice.
Cabrera is also currently the chairman of Tax Committee of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), as well as vice-chairman of the Educated Marginalized Entrepreneurs Resource Generation (EMERGE) program, a MAP initiative that helps a select group of entrepreneurs become successful. He is likewise a long-time member of the Tax Committee of PICPA or the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He also chairs the Franchise Excellence Awards (FEA), a platform that recognizes the country’s best-managed companies.
In 2014, Cabrera launched the Developmental Social Enterprise Awards—in partnership with the BCY Foundation—to recognize and support developmental social enterprises. He spearheaded the Philippine Gems campaign, a nationwide search to identify the country’s next wave of tourist destinations. It is one of five Gold finalists in the 2014 Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards. He likewise led a project dubbed “Philippine Resiliency: A Gem Uncovered,” which seeks the insights of top Filipino CEOs.
In 1998, PICPA granted Cabrera the Young Achiever in Public Practice Award and, in 1995, recognized him with the Outstanding CPA in Public Practice Award.
Recently, Cabrera completed the CEO Global Transformation Program, at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He attended a leadership and management program at Harvard Business School, in 2006, the same year he was named as one of the outstanding alumni by the Philippine School of Business Administration, where he finished his BS in Accountancy. He earned his Juris Doctor at the Ateneo de Manila University, in 1994, and passed the bar the following year.