Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia said in a lecture Thursday evening that the present-day relationship between the two nations is positive and that the countries currently “work together to advance democracy, peace and good governance.”
At the talk, Cuisia made a case for his nation’s success, focusing on the Philippines’ status as a “tiger cub economy,” or an export-driven, growing economy. Cuisia, a former businessman who attended Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, said United States-Philippines relations are at a new high and the Philippines has become a rising power in Southeast Asia.
“We are poised to make these achievements sustainable and real in the eyes of the international community, and more importantly our own people,” he said.
In the first quarter of this year, the Philippines’ gross domestic product grew 7.8 percent — exceeding the growth rate of China. Investment bank Goldman Sachs predicted that the Philippines will be the 14th-largest economy in the world by 2050, Cuisia said.
He said it is important that his country transition from agricultural to market growth, though the agricultural sector has been a significant contributor to the country’s economic prosperity for the past several decades.
Currently, the Philippines is in the midst of a dispute with China about the ownership of territory in the South China Sea, a conflict which some think may have hurt the economic relationship between the two nations. Cuisia said he thinks that the Philippines are not dependent on their trading relationship with China, and he aims to expand trade with the United States.
During the speech, Cuisia emphasized the government’s efforts for transparency. The nation has had difficulty with corruption and public officials in recent years, but he said the corrupt politicians “are the minority.” For the first time in history, he added, the government is pressing charges against high-up officials who take part in illegal activity.
“This government wants to hold senior government officials accountable,” he said.
The current president of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino, aims to run his office under a stamp of “transparency and accountability,” Cuisia said.
Students interviewed had mixed reactions to Cuisia’s lecture.
Lina Xing ’17 said she thought Cuisia’s optimistic outlook had a degree of “fluffiness” that downplayed the nation’s corruption and issues with economic disparity.
“Overall, there was nothing that was unsurprising,” she said. “The ambassador gave a very cookie-cutter speech. It was informative, in a sense, to see what the perspective of the Philippine government was. I don’t think, however, it was very informative as to the perspective of the people of the Philippines.”
Chris Dee ’15 said the ambassador made him “very inspired to serve my country” and that he found the talk imformative.
Cuisia has served as ambassador to the United States for three years.