January 17, 2023
ZURICH – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. aims to put the spotlight on the Philippines as an investment destination, and bring home job-creating business deals, as he leads a powerhouse delegation to the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meetings in the skiing town of Davos along the Swiss Alps.
He also affirmed plans to discuss at the WEF, deemed by many as the private sector representative of the world, the government’s plan to create a sovereign wealth fund (SWF).
An enabling legislation for SWF breezed through Congress after Marcos had certified the bill as “urgent” and will now undergo Senate deliberations.
During his string of overseas trips, the President said he usually talks about the Philippines and “what the situation is as an investment destination.” The SWF concept could now be added to the conversations, he said.
“So I will say what exactly has happened, that we are forming a sovereign wealth fund..for big investments in the basic areas such as agri, energy, digitalization, climate change,” the President told journalists aboard PR001 en route to Zurich.
Marcos is going to Davos as head of state for the first time but he noted that he had attended these meetings in the past before.
He said he liked the format of plenary panels similar to that of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec). In this case, he said, in a panel moderated by WEF founder Klaus Schwab, after a five-minute speech, the conversation would take on a question and answer format, and the audience could ask questions.
“That kind of format will give us a better opportunity to expand and expound on the things that we are doing in the Philippines,” he said.
Citing his previous experience as a participant at the Davos forum, Marcos said the “pull away” meetings would be just as important.
“Sometimes, the best deals are done outside of the forum. In fact, many — I’ll even say, maybe most of the best deals are done informally,” he said.
“So we will have a lot of those because there are certain businessmen who our own business group want to engage. So siguro, magpapatulong sila sa atin. (They will ask help from us)…Besides the forum, the fora, a lot of work will be done on the sidelines, as usual. That’s really often how it happens.”
Philippine Airlines Flight PR001 carrying the President and his official delegation touched down at the Zurich-Kloten International Airport on Sunday at 4:27 p.m., Zurich time (11:27 p.m., Philippine time).
In a separate statement before his departure from Villamor Air Base, President Marcos said he would put forward during the WEF meetings the country’s readiness to play a role in regional and global expansion plans as nations emerge from the pandemic.
“The World Economic Forum is hosting a Country Strategy Dialogue for us where we are given the opportunity to promote the Philippines as leader and driver of growth and a gateway to the Asia-Pacific region – one that is open for business – ever ready to complement regional and global expansion plans of both foreign and Philippine-based enterprises anchored on the competent and well-educated Filipino workers, the managers, and professionals,” Marcos said.
The President said he would look for partners who will back his administration’s ambitious plan to build more infrastructure and ensure food and energy security.
“I will draw attention to our efforts at building resilient infrastructure that bolsters our effort to reinforce robust and resilient supply chains, ensures food security, including critical interlinkages with the health and nutrition, while furthering climate-friendly, clean and green energy to power the Philippine economy,” the President said.
“Moreover, I will share our experience as a model for managing – with our global partners – the disruptive and transformative impact of COVID.”
This year’s annual meeting of the WEF is the forum’s first in-person gathering since 2020 and before the world came to a standstill because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marcos said he was looking forward to meeting with various government and business leaders at the WEF and strengthening partnerships with them.
The chief executive also said he would take the opportunity to exchange views on pressing issues with other government leaders, policymakers, business executives and entrepreneurs, as well as civil society advocates and academic experts.
“Cooperation in a fragmented world” is WEF’s theme this year.