ADR Institute roundtable discussion on trade and investments

Last Wednesday, I attended a round table discussion  on “The Role of Exports and Foreign Direct Investments in Industrial Development”sponsored by the Albert del Rosario (ADR) Institute (formerly Stratbase Research Institute), Tower Club, Philamlife Tower, Makati City.

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The convenor and main speaker was Dr. Epictetus Patalinghug (UP College of Business Administration, and a Trustee of ADR Institute). He presented many data about economic  competitiveness in relation to the forthcoming ASEAN economic integration.

Discussants were Dr. Gilbert Llanto (President of the PH Institute for Development Studies/PIDS), Dr. Ramon Clarete (UP School of Economics/UPSE Prof. and former Dean), Mr. Donald Dee (Honorary Chairman, PH Chamber of Commerce and Industry/PCCI), and Atty. Wilfredo Villanueva (Head of Tax and General Counsel, SGV & Co.).

Below, from left: Atty. Villanueva, Dr. Llanto, Dr. Patalinghug, Dr. Clarete, Mr. Dee.

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Atty. Villanueva mentioned in his reaction/discussion that in the ASEAN, the PH has the highest corporate income tax at 30 percent. The average for the other 9 countries are 22 or 23 percent. And socialist Vietnam has only 22 percent, to go down  further to only 20 percent next year.

Other guests and invitees were people from academe, exporters, officials from DFA and Department of Trade Industry (DTI) like Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) Director Senen Perlada. Amb. Cesar Bautista (also a former DTI Secretary) of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) President Toti Chikiamco, Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) President Edgardo Lacson. Officers from at least 4 foreign embassies (UK, Japan, Australia, plus another one or two), etc. Plus ADR Institute staff and two business reporters.

I spoke during the open  forum. I said that to have more trade and investments, what people really want actually is not good governance but less governance. Not good tax administration but less taxation.  That in a free society, all things are allowed except for a few prohibitions — like no killing, no stealing, no rape, kidnapping, etc. In (totally) unfree society, all things are not allowed except when one gets a government permit. See the experience of many entrepreneurs, yearly they must get and pay for a barangay permit, health and sanitation permit, electrical permit, fire department permit, Mayor’s permit, etc. Local governments alone. Then BIR, DTI permits, SSS, DOLE permits, etc. for national government agencies.

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I also cited the WB’s Doing Business 2015 Report, exporters in Singapore file only 3 documents, wait for 6 days to export, and pay $460/container on average. In contrast, exporters in the Philippines file 6  documents, wait for 15 days and  pay $755/container. (Photo below from Arpee Manhit)

And I added that capitalism is a good system, it allows free market and free individuals. Now even the Pope is against capitalism, and many people including many academics and facebook users are anti-capitalism, yet they so love fb (and youtube, google, twitter…) all of which are 100 percent products of capitalism.

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A friend commented that I was “preaching to the choir”. I replied that it’s not the case. First, I was not a preacher/discussant, just an ordinary participant. Second, there were a number of government officials there from DFA, DTI,. Third, not all academics believe in minimal government, majority are believers of “big but good government”, the source of most of their consulting work.

Thanks again to ADR Institute, especially Prof. Dindo Manhit, for that invite. Good to hear the presentations and comments from other participants. Meet old and new friends. All photos above except 2nd to the last and from Arpee) are from the ADR Institute fb page. Thanks Mikee M.

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