MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - A Filipino ports and casino tycoon described Donald Trump as the “biggest risk” and the “biggest unknown” in global trade.
Filipino ports and casino billionaire Enrique Razon Jr., known for making risky bets around the world, is facing his latest challenge yet: charting an uncertain global environment led by United States President Donald Trump.
Razon told reporters Thursday that the fierce protectionist trade policies that might emerge under Trump’s “America first” stance would harm global trade, and Asia foremost, if pursued.
“Trump is the biggest risk by far, probably the only risk,” Razon told reporters after the annual meeting of International Container Terminal Services Inc., where he is chair and president.
“Well, economic growth is always a risk (but) Trump is the biggest unknown,” he said.
ICTSI operates almost 30 port deals around the world, a third of which are located in the Philippines, and many in fast-growing markets such as Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa and Australia. It recently exited its only US project in Portland, Oregon after a long-running dispute with workers.
ICTSI is cutting capital spending this year by more than a third to $240 million, given the completion of most of its projects. Razon said there were a few more prospects abroad, noting they hoped to wrap up the bidding for a port project in Greece in the next few months. He added they were also looking at two projects in Africa.
Despite the uncertain picture overseas, Razon said he was optimistic about developments in the Philippines, citing the Duterte administration’s infrastructure push.
“The subway, I’ve been harping on that for the last 10 years. A subway is what we need,” Razon said, referring to a P227-billion (US$4.5 billion) underground train plan that the government hoped would link Quezon City to Taguig by 2024.
Razon said there were no plans to invest in infrastructure outside the group’s core business. But he is not closing the door to certain opportunities, such as roads, which would aid in his ports and gaming businesses.
Razon also controls Bloomberry Resorts Corp., which operates the Solaire Resort & Casino in the Entertainment City complex along Manila Bay. He said Bloomberry hopes to start work on a casino in Ayala Land Inc.’s Vertis North project in Quezon City by early 2018, once they have cleared out informal settlers.
“The government launched its infrastructure projects. If it can execute that in its timeframe, that’s very good for the country,” Razon said.