With (from left) Alpha Technologies VP Paul Shmotolokha, Thai Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Boosara Kanchanalai, acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Finance and Development Roland de Marcellus, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Walter Douglas, Ambassador Thomas Hubbard, US-Philippines Society president Ambassador John Maisto and Stimson Center Southeast Asia program director Brian Eyler.
Building the Indo-Pacific region
THIS WEEK ON PEOPLEASIA - Babe Romualdez (The Philippine Star) - November 11, 2018 - 12:00am

There are huge opportunities for cooperation and synergies with the United States in moving forward the vision of a strong and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. This was the optimistic sentiment shared by my fellow panelists from the US State Department and the private sector during the recent forum titled, “Building the Indo-Pacific: ASEAN Stakeholder Forum” held at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C.

Co-sponsored by the US-Philippines Society, the forum promoted the public discussion of strategic and pragmatic impact areas for new US trade and infrastructure initiatives following the passage of the bipartisan BUILD (Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development) Act by the US Congress to support developing countries particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.

(From Left:)Delivering the opening remarks prior to the panel discussion. Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Roland de Marcellus explains a point. Panelist Paul Shmotolokha of Alpha Technologies. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Walter Douglas delivers the keynote address.

In his keynote speech, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Walter Douglas stressed the importance of private sector-led development in areas such as digital economy, infrastructure and energy.

In my opening comments, I shared about “Build, Build, Build,” the Philippines’ infrastructure investment plan that is touted to be the boldest infrastructure program in our history with the goal of investing over $170 billion in six years and spending 7.4 percent of GDP or about $38 billion on infrastructure alone by 2022.

I was pleased to hear my fellow panelist and Alpha Technologies vice president Paul Shmotolokha remark that “the Philippine market offers real transparent opportunities for Alpha. The infrastructure investments are dynamic, and growth rates show they are hitting the potential that we always hoped for would materialize. We hope that the US BUILD Act will put US companies into the middle of these great infrastructure projects.”

US-Philippines Society president Ambassador John Maisto noted that the forum directly responded to the expressions of concern by the Philippine government’s economic team members who have questioned why US companies have not been more engaged in the Build, Build, Build initiative. 

Roland de Marcellus and Stimson Center’s Brian Eyler during the open forum.

The passage of the US BUILD Act is certainly encouraging, and I’m optimistic that the discussions we had during the forum are only the beginning of more conversations so that we will be able to act on our shared goal and work closely to ensure that people will benefit from all the potential infrastructure projects sooner than soon.

Aside from Paul Shmotolokha, joining us in the panel were acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Roland de Marcellus and Thai Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Boosara Kanchanalai, with Stimson Center Southeast Asia program director Brian Eyler as moderator.

INDO-PACIFIC: ASEAN STAKEHOLDER FORUM
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