First word

DESPITE the ebbing tide of globalization, and the skepticism surrounding Davos 2023, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is exactly on target in pitching for more FDIs (foreign direct investments) in the Philippines during our current push for accelerated economic expansion and industrialization.It's the right note to strike amid the clouds of pessimism and fears of recession surrounding the forum and the global economy. It addresses an acute need of the country to surmount the pandemic crisis and the spiral of its indebtedness to an unprecedented level. Major infrastructure projects that will come on stream during BBM's term, like the ambitious Metro Manila subway project, need to be complemented by equally big farsighted projects in other industries and sectors, and in the other regions.It's exactly the same objective that other countries and an entire continent strive today to advance during their participation in Davos.
Get the latest news
delivered to your inbox
Sign up for The Manila Times’ daily newsletters
By signing up with an email address, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
BBM is not alone in recognizing the potential of the WEF for generating investments and advancing economic cooperation.

Bold declarations

On the doings on the forum's first day, Reuters reported yesterday that the annual WEF meeting kicked off with bold declarations by Europe and China in attempts to bolster their positions in the world.The European Union will counter the US' game-changing Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), described in Davos as "the most significant climate legislation since the 2015 Paris Agreement," with its own new deal.
European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would mobilize state aid and its own sovereignty fund to keep EU firms from moving to the United States. In turn, China, after reopening its doors to the world, is making a big pitch to the global elite through its Davos delegation which is led by Vice Premier Liu He. Liu told the forum that China wants international investors to play a key role in Beijing's efforts to revive its slowing economy.Ukraine too will make its presence felt in Davos, not just through the 11-month-old Ukraine war, but also through the attendance of its first lady, Olena Zelenskyy. Mrs. Zelenskyy told the WEF she would deliver a letter to China's vice premier Liu to pass on to Chinese President Xi Jinping that lays out President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's proposals for ending Russia's war against his country. It serves as a prelude to the drumming up of massive foreign investments and aid for Ukraine immediately at war's end, which is now the writing on the wall in 2023.Vladimir Putin's mad adventure has nowhere to go but down into the dustbin of history.

Good story to tell

President Marcos' decision to pitch for investments and float the Maharlika Wealth Fund in Davos, is of a piece with all these moves to attract foreign investments from other countries and the world's leading multinational enterprises. It is a pity that only Germany among the G7 countries is present in this year's forum in Davos. This leaves out a very large chunk of power and clout in the global economy.That notwithstanding, BBM is wise and right to take part in the forum, in representation of our people and our country.
BBM has a good story to tell, if not better than many other countries. The Philippines is the second biggest country in Southeast Asia and Asean, which as a regional grouping is highly regarded for its redoubtable growth, stability and cohesion, perhaps exceeded only by the European Union. The Philippines has an impressive record of six percent growth for six years running. And it is projected to exceed the 2022 target with GDP growth of 6.5 percent.

Global recession

The worry in Davos, says the Washington Post, is economic recession and the siege on globalization. The Post said in an editorial January 17:"Instead of a 'post-crisis' moment, it's more common to talk of a permacrisis,' of a world buckling under a never-ending cascade of calamity — war, climate catastrophe, energy price chaos, inflation, epidemics of hunger and disease, political instability, and widening economic inequity. This year's WEF theme, a plaintive appeal to find 'cooperation in a fragmented world,' seems more possessed by the ruptures that have already taken place. In a press call with reporters last week, WEF President Borge Brende said the meeting 'will happen against the most complex geopolitical and geoeconomic backdrop in decades.'"Top on the agenda are concerns over a possible global recession."On Tuesday in Davos, two economic historians Adam Tooze and Niall Ferguson, are set to discuss the subject of "de-globalization or re-globalization." The concepts reflect how governments and multinational companies today are reconfiguring supply chains away from conflict spots and adversarial states. These are on view with the departure of a significant number of Western companies from Russia and China."I would say we are in a re-globalizing moment," declared Zafrul Aziz, Malaysia's minister for trade and industry.Asean countries will no doubt benefit from companies and businesses pivoting away from China to markets in Southeast Asia.The Philippines should be prepared to manage this change.China today is in much the same position as other countries in courting the investments and support of the global economic elite. This is why Beijing has sent a top-level delegation to Davos led by Vice Premier Liu, who is slated to deliver one of the event's major keynote addresses. This marks a return of Beijing's engagement with the forum, though still not at the level that was on show in 2017, when Chinese President Xi Jinping himself keynoted proceedings with a speech.In Russia's case, Vladmir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev are now all persona non grata in Davos, along with the coterie of Russian oligarchs and business elites who used to throw some of the most lavish parties on the sidelines of the forum."There's a cynicism around Davos today," says Penjani Mkambula, who works on fortifying grains with minerals and vitamins in the developing world at the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition. "But there are so many positives that emerge. A lot of partnerships get forged, a lot of work gets done and you sometimes only see the results years later."President Marcos is right to see beyond the cynicism, and believe that partnerships and agreements can be forged under the auspices of the World Economic Forum.We will gain nothing if we shrink from the challenge and the opportunity.

[email protected]