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PIA Press Release

PGMA urges businessmen to look beyond current crisis for existing opportunities

Manila (23 October) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Wednesday urged the country's top business leaders to look beyond the current worldwide financial debacle and seize the opportunities provided by their niche markets.

In her speech at the close of the 34th Philippine Business Conference and Expo (PBC&E) at the Manila Hotel on Wednesday, the President said that as hard as the blow the financial crisis has dealt on the global economy, it has also created opportunities for the fiscally strong economies.

"Similarly, in the private sector - your world - this is the time for business groups to take advantage of the strength and financial liquidity of our banking system to expand your role in your respective markets," she told the PBC.

"Equally important to financial strength is the ability to decide and move quickly -- the road between a decision to invest and the actual writing of the check is fraught with uncertainty," she added.

The President cited the Middle East as the "bastion of wealth with both financial capacity and decisiveness. They have oil and they have governments with unified commands."

She said she's going to the Middle East before Christmas to look for business opportunities and open more jobs for Filipino workers, as she invited the country's leading businessmen to join her in her trip.

The Philippines can take advantage of the continuing construction boom in Arab nations that are awash with oil revenues coming from the high oil prices of the last five years, she said.

"The Arab engine is up due to the past five years of costly oil. This has led to construction booms in the Middle East and a surge in remittances. In addition, the fact that the Philippines has a Mindanao close to the hearts of the Middle East, opens up opportunities not only in Mindanao but for the entire country," the President said.

The biggest gathering of local and international businessmen, the annual PBC&E draws some 3,000 delegates and exhibitors from the nationwide network of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).

Expanding trade and investments with rich Arab nations, the President said, is among the strategies to pump prime growth in the Philippines, particularly in the face of a looming US recession next year.

Other strategies to soften the blow on the Philippines of the global financial turmoil include marketing of the country's BPO as a cost-cutting solution to US firms; expanding trade investment and tourism with giant neighbors such as China; more lending support to micro- and small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs); and attract more investments from the Arab nations which are awash with oil revenues.

"I call on you to decide and seize the opportunities provided by the closeness of the Middle East to Mindanao and to our Filipino workers. I hope you will send a delegation to our Middle East trip, which we will be doing before Christmas," the President told the PBC members. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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