Philippine Economic Forum in Tokyo

October 2016

On the occasion of a visit to Japan by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, JETRO held the Philippine Economic Forum in Tokyo on October 26, co-hosted by the Japan-Philippines Economic Cooperation Committee, Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, ASEAN-Japan Center and Philippine Society of Japan. In the forum, joined by approximately 1,200 participants, speeches were delivered by President Duterte and over 10 other key economic cabinet members, including the Ministers of Finance, Trade and Industry and Agriculture and the Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), on such topics as economic policies conducted by the new administration. The participants of the forum included a delegation comprised of 200 Philippine business people led by the President as well as the aforementioned dignitaries, and the event was a resounding success.

Expectations placed in leadership of new administration

JETRO Chairman and CEO Hiroyuki Ishige expressed expectations in his opening remarks, saying “President Duterte is trying to reform the Philippines under the keywords of "change" and "action." While reformation is never a smooth process, we hope for the country to stay the course under the strong leadership of the President and his cabinet.” Chairman Ishige continued, “Japan will support the new Philippine administration through expanding mutual trade and investment between both countries.”

Philippine economic policies illustrated by key cabinet members

Among the participating cabinet members of the Philippines, the first speech was delivered by Secretary Carlos Dominguez of the Department of Finance. He stated that the Philippines will seek out a way to forge a close economic relationship with Japan, and he encouraged Japan to invest in the industries of infrastructure and manufacturing of the Philippines. He also explained how the new administration will move forward with integrated economic policies in line with 10 agendas, with the goal of making the country a business-friendly environment.

Following that, Secretary Ramon Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry introduced opportunities for trade and investment in the Philippines. With specific examples of attractions the country has to offer such as substantial investment incentives and high economic growth, he also declared his intention to improve the business environment in local regions. He encouraged Japanese companies to further invest in the industry field and to employ Filipino workers.

Ernesto Pernia, Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning in NEDA, emphasized that the improvement of infrastructure is necessary for the Philippines' sustainable economic growth. With that, he made clear the government's idea to focus its efforts on developing infrastructure of local regions as well as Metro Manila, and he also illustrated the policies of the new administration which will facilitate the flow of people, products and services from the capital area to local regions.

Secretary Emmanuel Piñol of the Department of Agriculture stressed the need for modernization and productivity improvement in the agricultural sector. In this regard, he said that farm machinery such as rice mills are essential for agricultural modernization and expressed his expectations for cooperation in the field from Japan. He also made a passionate call for investment into the country's main agricultural products such as bananas, shrimp, rubber and abaca fiber.

Director General Charito B Plaza of the Philippine Economic Zone Authorities (PEZA) gave an overview of the current state of affairs of his field, including how there are 348 special economic zones within the Philippines, that Japan is the biggest investor by country and that the greatest portion of investment comes from companies involved in the fields of electronics and semi-conductors. After that, he unveiled a scheme in which the government will develop special economic zones and industrial cities in local regions in preparation for the Philippines' future transition to a federal system.

Reform directly driven by President

The keynote speech at the end was delivered by President Duterte. He expressed his intention to develop rural areas through agricultural modernization and investment into infrastructure, aiming to prepare a business environment attractive to investors. In this regard, he expressed his hope for cooperation by both the public and private sectors of Japan.

Welcome remarks by JETRO Chairman Ishige

Keynote speech by President Duterte

Welcoming investment from Japan

During a dialogue between President Duterte and JETRO Chairman Ishige held the day following the forum, Chairman Ishige explained how Japanese companies in the Philippines have played a significant role in contributing to the Philippine economy in terms of investment, export and job creation. He also offered a proposal to the President consisting of three activities to be conducted by JETRO in the Philippines, one of which is the enhancement of information on rural areas of the Philippines and its provision. President Duterte expressed his welcome for investment from Japan and promised the improvement of the business environment while emphasizing that job creation is a matter of personal concern for him.

Forum filled with participants

Dialogue between President Duterte and Chairman Ishige


Date October 26, 2016
Venue Prince Park Tower Tokyo, Japan
Organizer Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Japan-Philippines Economic Cooperation Committee, Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines, ASEAN-Japan Centre, Philippine Society of Japan
Supporter Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation, Japan
Program Welcome Remarks
  • Teruo Asada, Co-Chairman, Japan-Philippines Economic Cooperation Committee (JPECC)
  • Hiroyuki Ishige, Chairman and CEO, JETRO
  • Masataka Fujita, Secretary General, ASEAN-Japan Centre
1. Philippine economy under the new presidency
  • Carlos "Sonny" Garcia Dominguez III, Secretary, Department of Finance
2. Trade & investment opportunities in the Philippines for Japanese the business community
  • Ramon M. Lopez, Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry
3. Comprehensive and integrated infrastructure program
  • Ernesto Pernia, Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning, NEDA
4. Invigorating Philippine agriculture – modernizing and improving productivity
  • Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol, Secretary, Department of Agriculture
5. Opportunities for Japanese investors in Philippine Economic Zones
  • Dr. Charito B. Plaza, Director General, Philippine Economic Zone Authorities
Comment or reaction
  • Mamoru Sekiyama, Chairman of the Board of the Philippine Society of Japan, Former Senior Executive Vice President of Marubeni Corporation
Introduction to the President of the Republic of the Philippines
  • Salvador C. Medialdea, Executive Secretary of the Philippines
Keynote speech
  • Rodrigo R. Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines