More economic engagements coming our way

BABE’S EYE VIEW FROM WASHINGTON D.C. - Ambassador B. Romualdez - The Philippine Star

Recent developments have been very encouraging with a surge of economic activities coming not only from the United States but countries in Europe and Asia as well.

Underscoring the attractiveness of the Philippines as an investment destination was the recent visit of the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC) led by its president and CEO Ambassador Ted Osius, who brought 30 members – their largest delegation ever to visit the country – who committed to pursue more investments and partnerships with Philippine businesses.

During their courtesy call on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the US-ABC (which has some of the biggest US companies among its members) expressed interest in several industries that include infrastructure, agriculture, clean energy, green metals and semiconductors.

“We… come here not just to talk but also to bring a lot of action to create real partnerships and to show our commitment in the form of investments,” Ambassador Osius emphasized.

Demonstrating that American businesses are indeed ready to match their words with action, semiconductor manufacturing company Texas Instruments is investing $1 billion to expand its operations in Baguio City and Clark. The expansion is in line with the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors and Science (CHIPS) Act signed into law by President Biden in August 2022 to boost the production and diversify the source of semiconductors in the US. Our friends at the US State Department have informed us much earlier that the Philippines is one of the counties they want to partner with in the semiconductor supply chain.

President Marcos acknowledged “the critical role that the United States and American businesses have played in advancing a robust and inclusive economic growth in the Philippines.”

In fact, a study by the Ateneo School of Government (ASG) showed that US investments have been crucial in creating quality jobs in key sectors such as IT-BPM (information technology-business process management) that received at least 35 percent of the $22.4 billion in new investment deals from 2003 to 2021 from 395 US-based companies. According to ASG Dean Philip Arnold Tuaño, “…it’s the quality of investments that we receive from other countries that have an impact on economic growth and job generation.”

During the official visit of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, she looked forward to accelerating “a new era of cooperation,” confident that a bilateral free trade agreement would promote growth and generate jobs.

The 60-million-euro Green Economy agreement signed by the Philippines and the EU is also expected to boost government efforts in the areas of circular economy, renewable energy and climate change mitigation. Even when he was a senator, the President has been espousing “green economy” to help mitigate the impact of climate change. The President urged Filipinos to adopt the concept of a “circular economy” – simply put, an economic system where materials are reused and recycled to reduce waste.

Canadian firms are also interested in several areas that include mining and renewable energy, with the latter becoming very attractive ever since the Philippines opened the sector to full foreign ownership, with 100 percent foreign equity now allowed in solar, wind, hydro and tidal energy projects.

PEZA also recently approved three big-ticket investments that are expected to bring in a total of P20.5 billion with close to 2,000 direct jobs to be generated. A die and mold company will also be reinvesting $3 million in their plant, while an electronic parts maker will invest 11.2-billion Japanese yen to expand its manufacturing capacity in the Philippines.

Malaysian investors have also expressed interest in the areas of food processing, multi-service digital platforms, aviation, logistics, manufacturing, infrastructure and wastewater treatment, with the President’s recent visit generating $285 million in investment pledges.

President Marcos clearly pointed out that economic security is an important part of his administration’s agenda, and surely his efforts are coming into fruition with the investment pledges starting to become a reality.

All these important developments are obviously an offshoot of the recent trip of the President to Washington, DC. It’s no secret that renewed interest coming from the Western world is part and parcel of our renewed and revitalized mutual security arrangements not only with the United States but also countries like Australia and the European Union.

And because of that, combined with the fact that we are pushing back against China’s aggressive behavior in the West Philippine Sea, intelligence sources tell us there is still an uptick in the disinformation campaign against those involved in defending our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea.

Public opinion both here and abroad are stacked up against the PRC and so China’s minions are now operating against many of us by using fake memos and documents purportedly coming from the Office of the President or the Department of Foreign Affairs.

NSC assistant director general Jonathan Malaya is right in calling these people out for “clouding the issue” and engaging in divide-and-conquer tactics to sow discord among Filipinos. “In this time, we need unity. We have to show the world that we Filipinos understand our position and we fully support the position of the Philippines,” he pointed out.

Pro-China operators have been going all over town engaging in character assassination, being “intellectually dishonest” by propagating disinformation against those of us who sincerely believe that our relationship with the US is an important part of our overall national strategy.

These people are traitors – plain and simple. Let me be very clear: The more they attack, the more I am committed and determined to continue what I feel is the right thing to do in advancing our interests and upholding the sovereignty of our country.

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Email: [email protected]

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