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William Pesek

Why Manila Wants to Be Detroit

Carmaking could provide the jobs the Philippines needs.
Aquino wants to jumpstart a manufacturing sector.

Aquino wants to jumpstart a manufacturing sector.

Photographer: Mark Fredesjed R. Cristino/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
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For a leader facing a plethora of challenges at home, Philippines President Benigno Aquino is thinking a lot about Detroit -- in particular, how to steal the title "Detroit of Asia” away from his Southeast Asian neighbor Thailand.

Aquino’s Philippines is riding an economic high; he claims GDP growth this year could reach 8 percent, which would be the best performance since the 1950s. The economy enjoyed a 66 percent surge in foreign direct investment in 2014 compared to a year earlier. On Thursday, the central bank was confident enough in growth prospects to hold rates steady, unlike most other Asian countries recently.