Above: Philippine Ambassador to the UK Enrique Manalo (4th from right) delivering his remarks, as Lord Laird of Artigarvan (3rd from right) and Sir Thomas Harris (2nd from right) listen intently.

(LONDON, 17 July 2012) – The Philippines received a boost from speakers at a recent forum held at the House of Lords in London on 17 July 2012, who lauded the country’s robust economic performance and its prospects for the future.

Entitled “The Philippines and ASEAN: Regional Economy and Security”, the forum was organized by Lord Laird of Artigarvan and was attended by more than 60 people from various London-based business firms and academic organizations, British government agencies, and foreign embassies.

The forum was an opportunity to showcase the good news emerging from the Philippines, and generate more awareness of economic and security developments in the Philippines and ASEAN.

Featured as resource speakers were Philippine Ambassador to Britain Enrique Manalo, UK Trade and Investment Southeast Asia Head Elizabeth Hawkins, Standard Chartered Vice Chairman (Asia) Sir Thomas Harris and TheCityUK International Strategy Director Wayne Evans.

In his remarks, Ambassador Manalo briefed the audience on the country’s economic fundamentals and the security challenges it was facing. He underscored how the Philippine economy “has displayed strength and resilience, and the momentum for growth is strong” under the government of President Benigno S. Aquino III. He stressed that the Philippines would remain committed to “open and transparent good governance, promoting and protecting human rights, and maintaining an open, transparent, rules-based international trading system.”

Meanwhile, Standard Chartered’s Sir Thomas told the forum that the Philippines was undergoing a “sea-change” and lauded President Aquino’s high-profile efforts against corruption. Sir Thomas, who has decades of first-hand experience in Asia, said he was “very optimistic about the prospects of the Philippines”, especially the “promising public-private partnerships” and the “growing external overseas confidence in the country’s economy.”

This was echoed by UKTI’s Hawkins and TheCityUK’s Evans, who both noted that the Philippines must “maintain the momentum” of fiscal reform, efforts against corruption and steps to improve business confidence in order to “substantially increase foreign investment” to the country. Evans especially cited the January 2012 HSBC report “The World in 2050” which said that the Philippines was poised to become the largest economy in ASEAN and the 16th largest in the world by 2050.

Apart from economic matters, the forum also tackled the highlights of recent high-level ASEAN meetings and regional security issues, such as the West Philippine Sea. Ambassador Manalo, in particular, briefed the audience on the Philippines’ commitment to address the West Philippine Sea issue via a peaceful and multilateral rules-based approach, including through a code of conduct for the area.

Ambassador Manalo also said that that the Philippines has “a very real stake in regional institutional security frameworks and processes [as] the region’s continued prosperity and economic development is a function of the maintenance of peace and stability in Southeast Asia.” (END)