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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Philippines wooing investors ahead of APEC meet

President Marcos and his economic team will highlight the country’s strong economy during a briefing for potential investors in San Francisco, California on Nov. 15 (Nov. 16 in Manila), ahead of the 30th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit.

While in San Francisco, President Marcos is also expected to witness the signing of a so-called 123 Agreement that will pave the way for the Philippines to obtain nuclear material, technology, and equipment from the United States.

The Philippine Economic Briefing (BEF) in San Francisco will be the administration’s fourth in the United States, following successful runs in Europe, Singapore, Japan, Canada, and the Middle East.

Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman will present the government’s priority expenditures for next year in line with the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028, as well as key budget reforms.

Pangandaman will join Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Eli Remolona Jr., and National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan in a panel discussion titled “The Philippine Economic Development: Charting the Course to the Future,” to be moderated by DBM Undersecretary Margaux V. Salcedo and Michael Paulus, managing director in Asia of Citigroup.

There will also be moderated panel discussions on the “Transformation of the Philippine Landscape through the Build-Better-More Program” and “Advancing the Future with Industry, Technology, and Innovation.”

The economic team will also engage in small group meetings with various banks, financial institutions, and other prospective investors from the US.

The PEB is co-organized by the BSP, DOF, Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco, Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC, the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in San Francisco, Bank of America, Citi, DBS/ICCP, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered Bank, UBS, and other partners.

Nuclear deal

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez on Wednesday confirmed that the Philippines will sign a 123 Agreement on nuclear-related investments with the United States this week.

The number refers to Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act, which requires the conclusion of a peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement for significant transfers of nuclear material or equipment from the United States. 123 Agreements also facilitate cooperation in other areas, such as technical exchanges, scientific research, and safeguards discussions.

The President has said that together with the United States and other partners, especially the private sector, the Philippines will build the necessary infrastructure to help power a growing economy, as it transitions to clean and renewable energy.

In his first State of the Nation Address, he emphasized that his plan includes adopting nuclear energy as part of the country’s power mix.

Vital contributions

President Marcos on Wednesday (Manila time) praised the Filipino community in the United States for their achievements, hard work, dedication, and vital contributions to both the Philippines and the US amid global challenges.

Speaking to Filipinos in San Francisco before the APEC summit began, President Marcos highlighted the role of Filipino nurses, doctors, first responders, and essential workers who have made a positive impact during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now, what happened during COVID-19, Americans experienced first-hand the Filipino way of caring and acting on the needs of others,” he said.

“One in every five nurses here in the West Coast are trained in the Philippines. Our Filipino nurses, our doctors, our first responders, essential workers have all demonstrated the timeless Filipino virtues of malasakit, pakikipagkapwa, and bayanihan (compassion, solidarity, and community spirit),” he added.

The President also acknowledged the contributions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the US, who sent a record of $14.89 billion in cash remittances back to the Philippines in 2022. He cited the importance of these remittances in supporting the Philippine economy and improving the lives of countless Filipino families.

“We are all grateful for your selfless service to humanity, and we look up to you as role models for future generations of Filipinos and Filipino Americans,” Mr. Marcos said.

There are over 4 million Filipinos and Filipino Americans in the US, with 1.3 million residing in the 10 states under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco. Of this number, about 700,000 Filipinos live and work in the Bay Area.

Stronger ties

In his speech, the President also highlighted his administration’s commitment to strengthening ties between the Philippines and the US.

“Investments from the United States have seen an upward trend, of $6.2 billion in 2022, or a 15.7-percent increase from 2021. In addition, California is an important trade and investment partner of

the Philippines. Our country is also important to the state as it has been the most popular destination for greenfield investment from our country,” President Marcos said.

He noted that the US is a crucial partner in the country’s development efforts, and he expressed his hope that the two nations will continue to work together to promote peace, prosperity, and security in the region.

The President arrived at the San Francisco International Airport in California at 5:06 p.m. (9:06 a.m. Manila) with First Lady Louise Araneta-Marcos and the Philippine delegation for the 30th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting and related activities.

This visit marks his third trip to the United States since taking office on June 30, 2022.

Government priorities

In his statement ahead of the APEC Summit, President Marcos emphasized the government’s focus on securing beneficial trade and investment opportunities, creating quality and green jobs, promoting human development, and reducing poverty.

He also emphasized the importance of engaging with economic leaders of the Asia-Pacific region to explore strategies for achieving food and energy security, fostering economic inclusion of micro, small and medium enterprises, and ensuring the welfare of women, indigenous people, and other marginalized sectors.

President Marcos also highlighted the need to prioritize sustainable development and address climate change. He expressed his commitment to promoting digitalization and innovation to unlock the full potential of these sectors.

The Philippines is a founding member of APEC.

The APEC region is a major economic force, representing 38 percent of the world’s population, 48 percent of its trade, and 62 percent of its gross national product. About 85 percent of the Philippines’ trade and its main investors come from the APEC region. Additionally, the United States is the second-largest employer of overseas Filipino workers.

President Marcos was invited by the APEC CEO Summit to deliver keynote remarks on “intentional equity in sustainability” and share the Philippine experience in ensuring inclusiveness on the path towards a greener economy.

The President will also be meeting with private sector representatives from the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) to discuss how the Philippines can use public-private partnerships in fulfilling innovative and sustainable development agenda, finance, and economic and business reform.

The President’s visit to the US will conclude with his visit to the Filipino community in Los Angeles, California, and Honolulu, Hawaii, where there is the largest concentration of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans, and “home to almost half of the 4.2 million Filipinos” in the US.

The Palace said Vice President Sara Duterte will serve as the government’s caretaker while President Marcos is away.

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