The ASEAN Business Club led a delegation to Manila on the 21st of May, the highlight of which was a courtesy call on President Benigno Aquino.The delegation began with a Corporate Networking Brunch, which was hosted by the Bank of the Philippine Islands and the Ayala Corporation, at the Fairmont Makati. ABC delegates were invited to network with over a hundred corporate clients from our Philippine hosts. The discussion panel for brunch was themed “Perspective on ASEAN and what it means for business opportunities and the key success factors for Philippine corporates considering regional expansion”. The panel included some of the leading captains of industry in the region: Nazir Razak (Group CEO, CIMB Group), Patrick Walujo (Founder, Northstar Group), Dr. Pinij Kungvankij (Vice Chairman, Charoen Pokphand Operations).The speakers provided some insight into the business opportunities presented in the Philippines, the impact of the ASEAN Economic Community on the business landscape as well as some of their experiences operating businesses in the country.

The delegation then paid a courtesy call on Benigno S. Aquino III, President of the Republic of the Philippines at his official residence in Malacanang Palace. The delegation, led by Nazir Razak and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (Chairman & CEO, Ayala Corporation) met President Aquino, whose address called for better cooperation between the public and private sector and to prioritise the betterment of the communities they serve. The President ended his speech with an encouraging message for our delegates to take advantage of the optimistic economic outlook of Philippines and the positive business and investment landscape.

Following this, a unique roundtable discussion was held with senior members of the Philippine government, focusing mainly on the trade and investment landscape within the context of Philippines and ASEAN. The lead panelists at this roundtable included Hon. Cesar V. Purisima, Secretary of Finance, Hon. Gregory L. Domingo, Secretary of Trade & Industry and Bangko Sentral Governor, Amando Tetangco Jr. Secretary Purisima discussed the reforms and initiatives that have been spearheaded by his department in anticipation of an integrated society in the Philippines. Governor Tetangco Jr. discussed the outlook for monetary policy in 2014 and the expectations for the Philippines towards ASEAN integration. Secretary Domingo added his views on the readiness of the Philippines to integration and the need for the private sector to take up an influential role in the development of the country leading up to the 2015 deadline and the post integration era.

On the whole, the visit was a resounding success. It served as an ideal platform for participants to deliberate the opportunities of the ASEAN Economic Community to promote greater inclusion across East Asia and to instill more resilient decision-making in the face of unpredictable economic and natural disruptions.