By LEE C. CHIPONGIAN
With still flat global growth, the Philippines’ net foreign direct investments (FDI) only amounted to $5.8 billion as of end October 2019, lower by 32.8 percent compared to same time in 2018 of $8.6 billion, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data showed.
“The lower FDI net inflows reflect subdued investor sentiment due to the continued sluggish global economic activity,” the BSP said. FDI is composed of equity capital, reinvestment of earnings, and borrowings between affiliates as actual inflows.
The January-October 2019 net investments in debt instruments fell by 27.3 percent to $4.3 billion from $5.9 billion same time in 2018. Net equity capital investments also decreased by 65.4 percent as placements dropped by 44.9 percent to $1.3 billion from $2.39 billion.
The BSP said withdrawals rose by 58.8 percent to $629 million from $396 million.
For the January-October period, Japan, the US, Singapore, China and South Korea continued to be large sources of equity capital placements. FDIs from these countries were invested in financial and insurance; real estate; and manufacturing industries.
Meantime, reinvestment of earnings increased by 12.5 percent to $825 million during the period, from $733 million in 2018.
For the month of October 2019 only, net FDI was up by 33.7 percent year-on-year to $672 million from $502 million in 2018.
According to the BSP, this was “mainly on account of the expansion in non-residents’ net investments in debt instruments issued by local affiliates [intercompany borrowings] by 60 percent to $534 million [from $334 million in 2018].”
In October 2019, net inflows of equity capital fell by 40.7 percent to $58 million from $98 million after the decline in equity capital placements to $80 million from $112 million and the higher withdrawals amounting to $22 million versus $14 million same time in the previous year. Reinvestment of earnings was up by 12.7 percent to $79 million from $71 million.
BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno, in a Rotary Club of Manila event, said the “slowdown in FDI in the country [is] mainly due to ongoing uncertainty in the global environment, which continued to dampen investor sentiment.”
“Nonetheless, FDIs for the full year are expected to post a net inflow owing to positive developments in the domestic economy in general,” he said.
Diokno said that while 2019 had some uncertainty due to major economies’ weaker growth numbers, trade tensions and geopolitical worriers, plus the delay in the domestic budget and the election ban, the Philippines continue to remain in a position of strength with a “resilient [growth] driven by strong domestic demand.”
The government has a 2020-2022 GDP growth target of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent but for 2019, lower at six percent to 6.5 percent.
The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank project a Philippine growth range of 5.7 percent to 6.3 percent for 2019 and 2020.