US investors lukewarm on New Clark City — DOF

Mary Grace Padin - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) has questioned the lack of US investors’ interest in the government’s project to develop Clark Freeport Zone, a former US military base, into the country’s next metropolis.

During a meeting with Assistant Secretary Manisha Singh of the US State Department, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez noted the absence of American investors in the Duterte administration’s New Clark City project when it was bidded out last year.

Dominguez said he had asked the same question before members of the US-ASEAN Business Council and the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines during separate meetings earlier this year.

“Last time I spoke with the US-ASEAN Business Council and the US Chamber here, I asked them one question. Why did they not bid for the project in Clark? The refurbishment of the Clark airbase is done with our own funds. The project is around $250 million. We bid this out around this time last year,” Dominguez said.

According to Dominguez, some American companies have submitted bids, but only for the design component of the New Clark City project.

The finance chief told Singh, who handles the US State Department’s economic and business affairs, that this lack of participation could indicate that US investors have no interest in taking part in the Philippines’ economic strategy anchored on its massive infrastructure program or the Build Build Build.

“Maybe they don’t have an interest here,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez said the Philippines welcomes US companies in the country, as their investments would prove beneficial for the country’s fast-growing economy.

In response to this, Singh assured Dominguez that she would speak with leaders of US infrastructure companies to tell them about the investment opportunities under the Build Build Build program of the Duterte administration.

She noted there may have been a “disconnect” that needs to be rectified to ensure that US companies are aware of the opportunities in the Philippines.

“We would like to participate, we would like to engage,” Singh said.

The US official said she would also explore a possible tie-up between US and Japanese companies in investing in New Clark City.

As part of its transformation into a new metropolis, New Clark City will house a backup government center, world-class sport facilities, and industrial estates.

The project was awarded to Malaysia-based Alloy MTD Group.

Dominguez said the project would also be complemented by the development of the Clark International Airport, which would include a new passenger terminal and possibly a second runway.

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