US hikes support for Philippine projects
Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) - October 30, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The United States is scaling up support for Philippine projects amid the COVID-19 pandemic with the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) opening up an office in Manila this year.

In a virtual panel discussion as part of the two-day Indo-Pacific Business Forum organized by the US Embassy in Manila, USTDA regional manager for Asia Brandon Megorden said the agency saw the need to establish an office in the Philippines to scale up support for various projects.

“We are excited to be able to open a new office and put a new officer in the Philippines this year given the increased demand we have both from the public and private sectors,” Megorden said.

Megorden said the USTDA has so far supported more than 115 projects in the Philippines.

“We really look to scale that up especially by having a new person in the country. We are open year round to accept new project ideas, whether it is looking at new projects where USTDA’s project tools could be of support both Philippine and US companies,” Megorden said.

The USTDA’s regional office is located in Thailand with country representatives in Vietnam and India.

The agency continues to support infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific region funding over 700 activities in 23 countries.

Megorden said the USTDA continues to support sustainable infrastructure development and commercial cooperation in partner countries, linking US companies to global infrastructure opportunities.

USTDA’s tools, Megorden said, include project preparation through feasibility studies, technical assistance, pilot projects, engineering and design as well as partnership building through reverse trade missions, workshop and trainings as well as conferences.

Priority sectors of the USTDA include energy, information and communications technology (ICT), transportation, agribusiness, and healthcare.

Feasibility studies undertaken in the Philippines include CEPALCO advanced metering infrastructure, the Aboitiz Power smart grid implementation plan, the waste to energy project, and the Tayabas geothermal project, while technical assistance include the Davao City public command center and intelligent transportation system, the cloud computing assessment and cloud center for excellence of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and the security vulnerability assessment for airports of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Megorden said the USTDA also funded technical assistance to help the DICT refine its technical and operational design plans to provide broadband access to the underserved markets throughout the Philippines.

USTDA’s missions and training programs in the Philippines cover cybersecurity solutions, LNG infrastructure, airport checkpoint design as well as financial and power sectors cybersecurity.

Megorden said the USTDA recently provided a $1 million training grant to PLDT Inc. to help accelerate transformation of the company’s digital transport network along with US technology partner Cisco.

Based on the USTDA’s Indo-Pacific resource guide, other major projects in the Philippines include the $60 million Davao smart city program, selected pipeline projects of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) including the second runway at the Clark international Airport and the Bataan Technology Park, the $20 billion new Manila international airport in Bulacan of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp., the $1.6 billion Batangas integrated LNG to power project, the $200 million Excelerate Luzon LNG terminal, the $850 million Batangas LNG terminal project of First Gen Corp., the Meralco smart grid, the $200 million Red core geothermal project, the $210 million waste to energy project of SURE Global, the $600 million expansion project of Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings Inc., among others.

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