Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez invited the international business community Wednesday afternoon (Switzerland time) to the forthcoming World Economic Forum (WEF) Roundtable to be hosted in Manila by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in March this year to showcase the country’s distinct advantages as a prime destination of foreign investments, a press release from the House of Representatives said.
Romualdez, head of the Philippine delegation to the WEF 2024 Annual Meeting, extended the invitation in his closing remarks as one of the featured guests during the “Learning from ASEAN” session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting live panel discussion hosted by CNN anchor Julia Chatterley.
Romualdez was joined in the panel discussion by Pham Minh Chinh, Prime Minister of Vietnam; Srettha Thavisin, Prime Minister of Thailand, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of World Trade Organization (WTO), Geneva.
“I see an ASEAN Parliament like the EU, I aspire for that. That has been an aspiration of the ASEAN ever since its inception,” Romualdez said when asked how he sees the Southeast Asian bloc five or ten years from now.
“And to see the seeds of that we invite you to Manila this March 18 to 19. Manila and the Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. will be hosting the World Economic Forum CEO Round Table. You will get a glimpse of our aspiration of an ASEAN Parliament,” Romualdez added.
The WEF Country Roundtable on the Philippines, scheduled to be a special in-person event, is likely to take place at the Malacanang Presidential compound in Manila.
The event hopes to welcome more than 50 representatives both from local and international companies and organizations with a special focus on foreign funds and investment companies who are interested in exploring opportunities related to the Maharlika Investment Fund.
Organized within the context of sustainability, examining the linkages between digitalization, infrastructure development, and the energy transition. It will be the first high-level roundtable to be convened in the Asia-Pacific region since the end of the pandemic.
Romualdez said the event will be a great opportunity to bring together representatives from the public and private sectors.
“As such, CEOs from international and Filipino corporations will be able to share experiences and discuss government initiatives and areas of collaboration with international and local government officials,” Romualdez said.
Romualdez also bared plans of the Philippines to propose a legal framework to the ASEAN to set the rules governing artificial intelligence when it assumes the chairmanship of the regional bloc in 2026.
“We’d like to give as a gift to the ASEAN a legal framework. … Digitization, even in our economic policy is very, very much right up there as a priority,” Romualdez said.
“Alongside that is cybersecurity, and the concomitant concerns and issues as generative artificial intelligence, a field that needs a lot of support and regulation. We feel that in ASEAN, we can capitalize and optimize these developments, but within a framework of regulatory support for this.”
Romualdez said such a framework is especially important for the Philippines, noting that with the increasing use of AI the country’s thriving business process outsourcing sector is now facing a severe threat.
“It’s a very vulnerable sector in a very, very bright industry today. But we see a transformation of personnel and upskilling of these personnel to a level to support generative AI will be likely a very, very logical direction to take,” he said.
“It is incumbent upon us in Congress to come up with a legal framework that will not just fit the Philippines, but will be very, very appropriate for the ASEAN.”*