Ambassador Teresita Daza said the P8-trillion program offers Indian companies an opportunity to explore the Philippines as an investment destination. File photo

Indian firms interested in 'Build, Build, Build' program
Alexis Romero (philstar.com) - January 24, 2018 - 4:15pm
NEW DELHI – Indian firms are interested to join the Duterte administration’s "Build, Build, Build" program in a development that highlights the "exciting time" in the ties between the Philippines and India, an envoy said.
 
Philippine Ambassador to India Teresita Daza said the P8-trillion infrastructure program offers Indian companies an opportunity to explore the Philippines as an investment destination.
 
"The Build, Build, Build program of President Duterte, I think, opens a lot of opportunities for both countries of our India as well as the Philippines. And Indian companies have actually expressed openness to also participate in this very laudable program," Daza told Radio TV Malacañang in an interview here.
 
Daza did not identify the companies who are planning to pour in investments in the program, which officials claimed would usher in a “golden age” of infrastructure in the Philippines.
 
President Duterte is set to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – India Commemorative Summit on Thursday here, his first foreign trip this year. He is expected to join fellow Southeast Asian leaders in discussing regional issues during the summit.
 
Duterte is also scheduled to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss ways to enhance the relationship between their two countries. Officials previously said the meeting may touch on issues like the Philippines’ plan to buy more cheap medicines from India and cooperation on defense, trade, logistics and agriculture. 
 
"We’re hoping that as we develop, as both countries develop, we will have both investors from India and the Philippines seizing opportunities so that they can actually contribute to the greater growth of both countries," she said.
 
Daza noted that the trade volume between the Philippines and India reached $1.8 billion in 2016, the balance of trade largely in favor of New Delhi. She said the Philippines is importing a “sizable amount” in terms of buffalo meat and substances used for medical treatment.
 
"We need to do more in terms of selling to India so that the trade would actually be more balanced compared to the present status," Daza said.  
 
She said the economic ties between the two countries are “doing very well” in terms of the information technology sector and industry, noting that nine out of the ten biggest Indian IT firms have presence in Manila.
 
The envoy also cited Indian firm’s GMR Group’s winning of the contract to build an airport in Clark.
 
Daza said the Philippines is also luring Indian tourists, with about 90,000 Indians visiting the Philippines in 2016.
 
She said the similarities between the Philippines and India, particularly their democratic ideals,  would help the two countries further deepen their ties.
 
"We are in an exciting time in the relations between India and the Philippines, there are convergence of interest. There are multiple opportunities that abound across the different areas of cooperation," Daza said.
 
"I think, India and the Philippines have a very strong tradition of democracy. India is the largest democracy in the world. The Philippines is the oldest republic in the region. Both countries respect the rule of law. Both countries give focused on a very strong development agenda. So that’s shared identities," she added.
 
Daza said the Philippines and India also have shared challenges in terms of terrorism, cyber security, and the pursuit for sustainable development.
 
"You have something in common, but at the same time, you also have challenges. These provides the venue, the platform for greater cooperation and collaboration," she said.
 
The Philippines established diplomatic ties in 1949. There are about 3,000 Filipinos in India, 400 of them here in the Indian capital of New Delhi. There are two Filipino groups here namely the Filipinos in India Community and the Kapisanan ng mga Pinay na may Asawang Indiano sa Hindustan, which consists of Filipinas who married Indian nationals. 

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