Com­pa­nies un­cer­tain over Philip­pines

7 Days in Dubai - - BUSINESS -

Once the pack­ages ar­rive in Dubai they are stored in a huge fridge ware­house be­fore the next flight Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s bloody anti-drug war and his out­bursts in de­fence of the cam­paign have un­nerved for­eign in­vestors in one of Asia’s fastest-grow­ing economies.

An­a­lysts and busi­ness­men point to un­cer­tain­ties about Duterte’s poli­cies and flip-flop­ping pro­nounce­ments as largely to blame for for­eign sell­ing in the stock mar­ket and the peso’s plunge to a seven-year low, re­vers­ing the ini­tial op­ti­mism af­ter his June 30 in­au­gu­ra­tion.

Ex­perts say un­pre­dictabil­ity is slow­ing longer-term for­eign in­vest­ment in the Philip­pines. The killing of sus­pected drug deal­ers and users – more than 3,000 since July 1 – have con­trib­uted to sag­ging con­fi­dence.

“We can deal with risks. We can put mea­sures in place to pro­vide for risks,” said Guenter Taus, head of the Euro­pean Cham­ber of Com­merce in the Philip­pines.

“But un­cer­tainty is a fac­tor that we do not like in busi­ness, and that is ex­actly what we’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing right now be­cause we don’t know where we are head­ing.” Taus said sev­eral com­pa­nies that had in­tended to es­tab­lish op­er­a­tions to the Philip­pines now pre­fer to wait and see what hap­pens un­der Duterte. He de­clined to say which com­pa­nies had changed their plans. He said in­vestors may choose to look at other South­east Asian coun­tries to gain ac­cess to the re­gion’s com­mon mar­ket of more than 600 mil­lion peo­ple. The Amer­i­can Cham­ber of Com­merce of the Philip­pines said that while the coun­try’s eco­nomic fun­da­men­tals are strong, there is grow­ing con­cern about Duterte’s poli­cies. The cham­ber said that the large num­ber of deaths in the anti-drug cam­paign is harm­ing the Philip­pines’ im­age, and that in­vestors are ask­ing if the drug war “re­duces the rule of law”. “Tra­di­tion­ally ex­cel­lent bi­lat­eral re­la­tions be­tween the US and the Philip­pines have been strained by lan­guage from Philip­pine lead­ers,” the cham­ber said.

TOUGH STANCE: Ro­drigo Duterte

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