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The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently published their Global Competitiveness Report for 2017-2018.  According to the WEF, the Global Competitiveness Index assesses the competitiveness of the landscape of 137 country’s economies and it provides unique insight into the drivers of their productivity and prosperity.  There are twelve pillars of competitiveness used to sort and rank each country’s economy.  The twelve pillars are as follows: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labor market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication, and innovation.  Each of these pillars is used to measure a different part of a country’s economy’s competitiveness.

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The Philippines Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has sent a 65-page complaint to about 47 different energy and mining giants, accusing them of contributing to climate change and thus violating the fundamental rights of Filipino citizens. Grievances listed include violation of the rights to "life, food, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and to self determination." The document demands that the corporations respond within 45 days with formal plans to either eliminate or lessen their carbon footprints. Major companies listed in the dispatch include Shell, BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and BHP Billiton. Both human rights and environmental organizations are calling this a "landmark case." 

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Atiur Rahman, the governor of Bangladesh’s central bank, stepped down Tuesday after over $100 million was stolen from the bank’s account at the New York Fed last month. Approximately 80% of the stolen amount was transferred to personal accounts in the Philippines, while the rest made its way to a bank in Sri Lanka. Official codes were used to facilitate the theft, and a representative from Bangladesh’s ministry of finance confirmed that the currently unknown criminals had the necessary codes to authorize the transfers. The American Fed has been accused of irregular activity, while questions were raised about the quality of security on the Asian country’s end.

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Manila is a relatively short plane ride from Singapore, but a world apart. In Singapore, as I reported last week, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is the topic of the minute (even if some officials admit it’s “a lot of hope and not a whole lot of change, yet.”) In the Philippines, on the other hand, one high ranking government official estimated awareness of ASEAN at about seven percent in the general population and roughly 30 percent among businesses. He could not site any numbers for the AEC specifically.

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As of late, the Philippines have experienced robust economic growth coupled with low inflation.  These positive economic indicators, among other factors, have led Moody’s Investor Services to give the country an investment-grade rating.  An economic growth rate of 5.2% in 2006 has continued to climb and currently is at 7.6%- a rate that is consistent with the fastest growing countries in the region and high-growth emerging markets around the world.

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While the rest of the world scrambles to overcome the current global recession, the Philippines has been experiencing record levels of economic growth. The island country has benefited greatly from increases in government efficiency, as well as a crack down on political corruption. The gross domestic product of the Philippines has grown 6.4 percent in the first quarter, which surpasses the performances of all other neighboring economies except China, and its currency, the peso, has reached record heights in the past four years when compared to the dollar. As a sign of the country's unprecedented economic progression, the Philippines has pledged $1 billion (USD) of its $70 billion in reserves to the International Monetary Fund to aid the European Union, which is the same fund that rescued the country in the 1980s.

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With costs rising for many businesses, companies are looking for ways to save money and lower costs. Outsourcing may be the best way to do just this. The Philippines has recently become an important destination for international companies wanting to outsource their call centers. For many years, India has been a top choice country for outsourcing but the tides are beginning to change. With high number of fluent English speakers coupled with clear and neutral accents, the Philippines has attracted many companies that are looking to outsource their call centers.

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The recent back-to-back typhoons in the Philippines have really crippled their small entrepreneurs. In this country consisting of thousands of beautiful islands, these small businesses are what make the economy thrive, so recovery has been and will be an uphill battle. A whopping 99.7 percent of all businesses in the Philippines are classified by the Department of Trade and Industry as micro, small, and medium enterprises. It got me thinking a bit about how other natural disasters affect the economies of other countries.