Partnership forged for development of Luzon Economic Corridor

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Partnership forged for development of Luzon Economic Corridor
President Marcos, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida walk together to a trilateral meeting at the White House in Washington yesterday. Inset shows the US and Philippine leaders at a bilateral meeting, emphasizing their joint commitment to promote mutual interests and regional stability.

WASHINGTON — The Philippines, the US and Japan vowed to cooperate on an “economic corridor” in Luzon during their first-ever trilateral summit here, which also saw them committing to develop critical and emerging technologies and to work together on clean energy supply chains. 

President Marcos, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida committed to accelerate coordinated investments in high-impact infrastructure projects, including rail, ports modernization, clean energy and semiconductor supply chains and deployments, agribusiness and civilian port upgrades in Subic Bay through what they called the Luzon Economic Corridor.

“Today we are launching the Luzon Economic Corridor, which will support
 connectivity between Subic Bay, Clark, Manila and Batangas in the Philippines,” the leaders said in a joint vision statement yesterday. 

“We plan to work with multilateral organizations and the private sector to attract quality, transformative investments,” they added. 

The three leaders said the Luzon corridor – part of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment-Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) Accelerator – is a demonstration of their enhanced economic cooperation focused on “delivering tangible investments across multiple sectors.”

Manila, Washington and Tokyo are also partnering to expand cooperation and investments in other areas of the Philippines, they added.  Marcos, Biden and Kishida announced a plan to hold a trilateral event promoting investment in the Luzon Economic Corridor on the margins of the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Manila in May.

They said the US International Development Finance Corp. also aims to open a regional office in the Philippines to facilitate further investments across the country. 

On Thursday, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said the Philippines may get at least $100 billion in investments from the US and Japan as a result of the trilateral summit. 

Tech opportunities 

The joint vision statement also expressed support for projects aimed at developing critical and emerging technologies. 

According to the three leaders, the US, subject to congressional notification, and Japan, with support from Japanese industry, intend to provide at least $8 million for Open Radio Access Network (RAN) field trials and the Manila-based Asia Open RAN Academy.

The plan seeks to “enable future commercial deployment and an open, interoperable, secure, reliable and trusted information communications technology ecosystem in the Philippines.” 

It also builds on an earlier US and Japanese investment of over $9 million for these projects in the Philippines.

Marcos, Biden and Kishida said Japan is also seriously considering further investments for the potential commercial deployment of Open RAN technology in the Philippines, including from the Global South Future-Oriented Co-Creation Project.

Washington and Tokyo also welcomed the Philippines’ plan to pilot Open RAN in its national broadband program and free WiFi project. 

“The United States and Japan commend the Philippines’ commitment to develop a national Open RAN policy framework, reaffirming the Philippines’ endorsement of open, interoperable and trusted architectures,” the vision statement read. 

The three leaders announced that they would hold the first trilateral Cyber and Digital Dialogue this year to explore additional cooperation opportunities. 

A new semiconductor workforce development initiative that will enable Filipino students to receive world-class training at leading American and Japanese universities will also be pursued to help secure the three nations’ semiconductor supply chains.

The initiative will complement the expansion of semiconductor investments in the Philippines and is seen to boost the three countries’ supply chain resiliency.

“Furthermore, through the CHIPS and Science Act’s International Technology Security and Innovation Fund, the United States and the Philippines plan to coordinate our efforts to develop and expand the Philippine semiconductor workforce to strengthen the global supply chain,” the joint statement said.

Energy cooperation 

Marcos, Biden and Kishida reiterated their commitment to take urgent action on what they described as the “existential threat of the climate crisis,” cut greenhouse gas emissions in line with a 1.5-degree Celsius warming limit and accelerate clean energy economy-building efforts while noting different national circumstances.  

The Philippines, the US and Japan also intend to expand their partnership on safe and secure civil-nuclear capacity building as they recognized Manila’s request for further training and capacity building for scientists, engineers and relevant personnel and policymakers.

“We also plan to deepen trilateral cooperation on civilian nuclear workforce development through a trilateral dialogue this year, to advance the Philippines’ civil nuclear energy program,” the leaders said. 

The three countries also aim to expand their cooperation for the transition to clean energy and creation of high-standard clean energy supply chain jobs by developing resources in a clear, transparent and fair market competition with strong protections for labor rights and the environment. 

Also announced in the statement were a plan by Washington and Tokyo to co-host a nuclear energy study tour in Japan for nuclear experts and policy decision-makers from the Philippines and other partner countries, and the US intention to manage a clean energy supply chain training program for select Filipino and Japanese participants.

The three leaders expressed support for critical minerals industries in all their countries as a way to promote resilient and reliable global supply chains for critical minerals. 

The US and Japan said they look forward to the Philippines being a founding member of the Minerals Security Partnership Forum, a key step toward securing and diversifying collective clean energy supply chains.   

Inclusive growth

Marcos, Biden and Kishida vowed to promote enduring, inclusive economic growth and resilience in their respective countries and in the Indo-Pacific and to pursue projects that advance their shared goals.  

They also affirmed their support for the continued progress of the IPEF to advance resilience, sustainability, inclusiveness, economic growth, fairness and competitiveness. 

Marcos also welcomed Biden’s recent Presidential Trade and Investment Mission to Manila and the announcement of more than $1 billion in US private sector investments that are expected to benefit the Philippines’ innovation economy, clean energy transition and supply chain resilience.

The Philippine leader thanked Japan for its official development assistance and private sector investment during the 2022-2023 fiscal year, which exceeded the pledge of 600 billion Japanese yen made in the 2023 Japan-Philippines Joint Statement. 

Marcos, Biden and Kishida likewise welcomed the first trilateral commerce and industry ministers’ meeting that took place yesterday and vowed to facilitate the steady implementation of economic cooperation projects toward the Philippines’ attainment of upper middle income country status and beyond. 

“We express concern over and strongly oppose economic coercion, stress the importance of a rules-based economic order and underscore the need for close coordination in dealing with economic coercion,” the leaders added.

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