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World Economic Forum 2013 – A moment for the Philippines

31 January 2013
By World Economic Forum from Cologny, Switzerland [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino announced in the World Economic Forum 2013 (WEF) in Davos to host the WEF East Asia Summit in the Philippines in 2014. Even though the WEF East Asia Summit is smaller in scale compared to the conference in Davos, around a thousand key players from business, politics and academia usually attend the summit. “Of course, it will not be as widely attended as the one here in Davos. But again, it puts us at the center stage of the world map for that period, which is something like July or so,” Aquino said. This year’s WEF in Davos also marked the first time for Aquino to attend this large business-centred forum. Besides the announcement to host the WEF East Asia in the Philippines, Aquino delivered a keynote speech in one of the sessions about anticorruption. In the session, “Partnering Against Corruption Initiative”, Aquino identified transparency and level playing field as priority sectors under his government. However, the session was held on the sidelines of the WEF and not seen as a key event.

The Philippine president delivered his message to the international investor community that the Philippines, once being the “sick man of Asia”, transformed into a dynamic country defying the global economic crisis. Agriculture, infrastructure and tourism are seen as the priority sectors for investments by the Philippine government. Escorted with an official delegation of seven Cabinet members, Aquino held meetings with potential investors who have a genuine interest in the newly emerging country. Especially 35 CEOs are keen on visiting the Philippines for new investment projects such as Unilever and Mitsubishi.

Looking through the European lens, slow recovery of the global economy and the euro crisis were still prevalent topics of the conference. However, the WEF 2013 conveyed a cautiously optimistic atmosphere compared to the two previous conferences, which was affected by the global economic downturn. This time, Mario Draghi, President of the ECB, predicts that the European economy will recover by the fall of 2013. Despite the minor signs of recovery, no government should take a rest with the efforts to tackle the financial crisis, according to Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF. Still, the Eurozone has a lot to do before return to normal.

The WEF 2013 marks the forum’s 43rd annual meeting, held under the motto “resilient dynamism”. Key actors from the academic, business, political and media sphere use the WEF as a platform to discuss about the global economic and political issues. Over 2500 guests and around 50 heads of states followed the invitation to the four- day conference, which took place from January 23 to January 26 in Davos, Switzerland. Environmental and social issues were also part of the conference. In different thematic sessions, the stakeholders work on possible solutions for the global challenges.