Few years ago, the country’s Department of Tourism (DOT) released a new banner in line with its advocacy to boost tourism from both the domestic and foreign community. IT’S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES. Indeed, the declaration of the Puerto Princesa Underground River as one of the new seven wonders of nature has solidified DOT’s claim. However, they forgot to mention one thing – that it’s also more fun INVESTING in the Philippines.
Why is that so? I’ll give five reasons here that will show how much the Philippine economy has improved from the time of dictatorship a few decades ago, and will make you think twice of putting your funds in some other country’s piggy bank.
Transformation. Clearly, the Philippines has transformed from an agricultural nation to a highly industrialized country. The economy is now driven by the services and manufacturing sector owing to the recent boost in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry and year-on-year growth of manufacturing output.
From debtor to creditor nation. Back in 1986, just after the People Power Revolution that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippines had no international reserves and had to keep on borrowing money just to keep the nation going. Twenty-six years later, the country’s total reserves is running at 80 billion USD and has lent $500 million to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that was subsequently used to aid European nations in crisis. Now that’s really something Filipinos can brag about.
Credit rating boost. The shift from debtor to creditor nation has caught the attention of international rating agencies who took no time in upgrading the country’s credit standing. Over the past year, all “big three” agencies have upgraded the Philippines – Fitch raised the country just one notch below investment grade, Moody’s uplifted its outlook from stable to positive, and just recently, S&P aligned its rating of the country with Fitch to one step below investment grade.
Third best performing stock index for the first half of the year. Yes, you read it right. The Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PSE) has outperformed its neighboring Southeast Asian countries gaining 25% year-to-date and behind Venezuela at 115% and Egypt at 30% YTD. This outstanding performance of the index is also an effect of the recent credit rating upgrades, boosting investor confidence.
Continuous and sustainable GDP growth. And finally, the one reason why everyone should start investing or stay invested in the Philippines is its stellar GDP growth. Amidst the global economic crisis spurred by European sovereign debt problems and US growth slowdown, there comes a “rare bright spot”, as S&P has coined, in the form of an emerging market seen to grow 4.8% this year and 6% the following year. In fact, the Philippines’ actual second quarter GDP was at 6.4% fueled by higher government spending and rising consumer confidence. The outlook is even better as the current Aquino administration has rolled out major private-public partnership (PPP) agreements to improve infrasturcutre that will result in an economy at par with its neighboring investment grade nations in the years to come.
Indeed, it really is more fun investing in the Philippines.