By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (File photo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is set to present the Philippines’ economic performance and his administration’s priorities during his participation in the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland from Jan. 16 to 20.

In a predeparture briefing, Malacañang press briefer Daphne Oseña-Paez said Marcos will seize the opportunity to highlight the Philippine government’s readiness to put a premium on key areas, such as food and energy security, digitalization and climate action.

Marcos, Oseña-Paez said, is also bullish on attracting more investments, promoting beneficial trade, addressing inequality and providing accessible social services.

“World Economic Forum is an economic forum. So, it’s the time for the Philippines, since we’re at the world stage, to let them know what the country is doing in terms of being ready and attractive for investments,” she said.

Marcos is the only Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leader and one of the two Asian leaders to attend this year’s WEF, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Carlos Sorreta said.

Sorreta said Marcos will be in a “wonderful position” to prove that the Philippines, as well as the ASEAN and the East Asia region, can be the “engine of growth for the world economy.”

“The theme for WEF is ‘Cooperation in A Fragmented World’. What we want to present is the Philippines, in ASEAN and in Asia, can be important factor in bringing together the fragmented parts of the world. What we present to a fragmented world because of our great economic potential in our country and in our region is a promise of progress and prosperity. It’s what we offer if we are able to achieve peace in other parts of the world,” he said.

“The President goes to Davos at the time when our country and our region [are] recovering well from past challenges. Projections remain high for economic growth for our country and our region. We have realization in our region that individual and collective economic potential remains great,” Sorreta added.

‘Soft launch’ of sovereign wealth fund

Marcos will also make a “soft launch” of the Philippines’ proposed sovereign wealth fund (SWF), otherwise known as the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) which is crucial in boosting Philippine investments and economic growth, Sorreta said.

Marcos, Sorreta added, believes that WEF is a “great venue” to present the proposed MIF.

“Global and business leaders will be there and they will hear it directly from the President, what fundamentals that we have to decide that we should have a sovereign wealth fund,” he said. “It’s really more of a soft launch to introduce it. I understand that it is evolving. We have the fullest respect for the congressional process and the open hearings that they’re having.”

The House of Representatives on Dec. 15 approved on the third and final reading House Bill 6608 or the MIF bill after being certified as urgent by no less than the President.

Under the proposed measure, the MIF will be financed through pooled funds from state-owned financial institutions and state pension funds.

Sideline meetings

During his stay in Switzerland, Marcos will attend a high-level dialogue with other world leaders, a stakeholder dialogue on global nutrition and a series of business meetings, Sorreta said.

Sorreta said Marcos will also meet with around 700 members of the Filipino community from Switzerland and other countries in Europe.

“I understand that other Filipino community members from other parts of Europe have asked to attend and of course, they will be allowed to attend. So, they will be coming in from other countries in Europe to meet the President,” he said.

Marcos will also have an opportunity to have bilateral meetings with other global leaders, but noted that these will be different from the “typical sit down,” Sorreta said.

“It’s really a bit different. The bilaterals mostly when they are in the same room together,” he said.

“One-on-one bilaterals might be difficult because all the leaders are either leading opening sessions or are panelists. The opportunity for bilaterals will be when he’s sitting beside, for example, the president of Belgium or the president of Korea. But the typical sit down, it’s not that kind of meeting,” Sorreta added.

WEF, established in 1971, serves as an international organization for public-private cooperation.

The annual WEF convenes leaders from government, business and civil society to address the state of the world and discuss priorities for the year ahead. (PNA)