One of the most-awaited gatherings of the Philippine business community is returning today with an agenda of pushing the country further forward as it opens for business and builds on the progress achieved in the past years amid the disruption brought by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 48th Philippine Business Conference & Expo (PBC&E) is happening today (Oct. 19) until tomorrow (Oct. 20) at the Grand Ballroom, The Manila Hotel, with the government’s top executives and economic managers, as well as business leaders from here and overseas coming together to once again exchange ideas on current issues and business opportunities.

This year’s conference is highlighted by the attendance of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. and Vice-President Sara Z. Duterte as they are expected to address the Philippine business community.

Mr. Marcos and Ms. Duterte will serve as the concluding and opening guests of honor and speakers, respectively, in what is set to be the biggest business face-to-face gathering in the country after two years of grappling with the pandemic.

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) President George T. Barcelon said that the chamber, the organizer of the two-day business summit, is honored and extremely delighted to receive the President’s confirmation to attend the conference.

“As we speak, we are now in full capacity and we are trying to find ways to accommodate those on the waitlist,” Mr. Barcelon said, adding that PBC delegates will be coming from across the country and overseas.

The PCCI president also said that the chamber has also organized a huge batch of business delegations from countries like the United States of America (USA), Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Japan to attend the conference.

Foreign delegates attending the conference are set to explore business opportunities and joint ventures in a business-to-business session with Filipino businessmen.

This year’s conference carries the theme “The Philippines is ready and open for business,” which PCCI finds a very timely theme befitting the chamber’s vision to be the “Voice of Business.”

“We have been consistent in our position to fully open up our economy because we need to get back on track to sustain our growth momentum,” Mr. Barcelon added about this year’s theme.

With the said theme, the 48th PBC&E will be looking at how the new government will build on the previous administration’s reform measures to make a real difference to the economy going forward.

(L-R) Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President George T. Barcelon and Philippine Business Conference & Expo Chairman Ferdinand A. Ferrer

In a media briefing last Oct. 12, Ferdinand A. Ferrer, the chair of this year’s PBC&E, recalled the previous administration has laid down the groundwork to attract more foreign direct investment with the amendment of important legislation such as the Public Service Act, the Foreign Investment Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act. The Ease of Doing Business Act and the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act, meanwhile, are likewise seen to support the expansion of domestic enterprises and recovery from two years of lost opportunities.

“We have a roster of highly renowned speakers and experts from both the government and business sectors to share insights and strategies on how we can sustain our growth momentum and, eventually, achieve the country’s vision of Ambisyon 2040 where Filipinos enjoy a stable and comfortable life,” Mr. Ferrer said.

The 48th PBC&E will start with the opening keynote message from Vice-President Duterte. Then, to set the tone of the conference, Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno will deliver a keynote presentation, followed by a fireside chat with Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan of the National Economic and Development Authority.

The conference will also have interesting discussions with some of the country’s top executives to highlight the business prospects under the new administration and the priorities moving forward.

The conference will also have a session with US Ambassador Marykay Carlson and Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian on building strategic alliances to create new markets and attract more investments.

The closing ceremony will feature the presentation of Resolutions to the President, as well as the awarding of the Most Outstanding Local Government Unit, Most Outstanding Chamber, and the 47th PBC Chairman.

The resolutions to be presented to President Marcos, Jr. during the conference cover a wide range of issues, such as achieving food security, transparent and affordable health care, employment generation, globally-competitive education and training standards, strengthened national security, reliable and competitive digitalization, climate change resilient and environmental-friendly policies, affordable power, safe and efficient transportation, and an outward and forward-looking trade policy.

“The set of resolutions capture the collective aspirations and expectations of the Philippine business community to the new administration as it steers the direction of the Philippine economy rebounding from the pandemic,” Mr. Ferrer said.

Mr. Ferrer is the chairman and chief executive officer of Gruppo EMS Inc., a company engaged in providing semiconductor engineering and electronic assembly services in the country and overseas.

Known to many as “Perry,” Mr. Ferrer returned to the Philippines after 22 years of being assigned in the Military & Aerospace Electronics in various foreign countries like the USA, Canada, Europe, and China.

Mr. Ferrer graduated Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management from the De La Salle University, Philippines. — Adrian Paul B. Conoza