US companies to invest $1B in PH

0
87
US companies to invest $1B in PH
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in Malacañang on March 11 as head of the two-day Presidential trade and investment mission. Photo from the Presidential Communications Office.
  • More than 20 companies that joined the US trade mission to the Philippines this month are set to invest over $1 billion in the country
  • The companies include Microsoft Corp., United Airlines, FedEx, United Parcel Service, and Google Asia Pacific
  • President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. invited US companies to participate in the administration’s infrastructure program, which includes 198 priority projects totaling $148 billion or over P8 trillion
  • Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual underscored the Philippines’ potential to be a key player in the critical metals sector with the country’s significant nickel, copper, and cobalt reserves

More than 20 companies that joined the US investment and trade mission to the Philippines this month are set to invest over $1 billion in the country, according to US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

“On this trip alone, these companies are announcing over a billion dollars of US investments, including creating educational opportunities for over 30 million Filipinos in the form of digital upskilling, AI (artificial intelligence) upskilling digital training,” Raimondo said in a press briefing during the first day of a high-level Presidential Trade and Investment mission she is leading from March 11-12.

Twenty two companies joined the trade mission, including executives from Microsoft Corp., United Airlines, FedEx, United Parcel Service, Google Asia Pacific, GreenFire Energy Inc., Black & Veatch Corp., Visa Inc., EchoStar/DISH, InnovationForce, Boston Consulting Group, KKR, Marquis, Sol-Go, Capital One Philippines, Bechtel, Apl.de.Ap Foundation, UltraPass ID, Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp., President’s Export Council, and the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations Business Council.

For his part, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. said the gathering “not only signifies a meeting of officials, but also celebrates the enduring relations between the Philippines and the United States—ties that have been built on shared sacrifices, mutual support and unwavering respect.”

In his address during the courtesy call of the US government and US trade delegation in Malacañang, Marcos also invited American companies to participate in the administration’s “Build, Better, More” program involving the development of 198 priority infrastructure flagship projects, totaling $148 billion or over P8 trillion.

The flagship projects span various sub-sectors, including physical connectivity, water resources, agriculture, health, digital connectivity (telecommunications), and energy, Marcos said. They will also lay out the groundwork for the nation’ aspiration to be the next logistics hub in Asia, he added.

In addition, Marcos noted the Philippines is poised to produce a “robust talent pool” of semiconductor professionals by 2028 with the support from the US under its CHIPS Act, which authorizes new funding to boost research and manufacturing of semiconductors in the US.

He said the Philippines is expected to produce around 128,000 semiconductor engineers and technicians who would meet the demand of technology in the coming years.

“So, with the potential support from the United States under the CHIPS Act, we are poised to churn out a robust talent pool of 128,000 semiconductor engineers and technicians by the year 2028, ready to meet the expanding needs of high-technology industries,” Marcos said.

The semiconductor and electronics sector is the top performer in merchandise exports for the Philippines, accounting to about 60% of the total merchandise exports.

In a separate statement, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said they are “confident that this day’s discussions will result in actionable measures.”

He added: “This mission serves as a platform to align our efforts and capitalize on both our nations’ economic successes. Further, this mission transcends traditional diplomatic missions to propel us toward stronger economic ties and shared prosperity.”

During the meeting with the mission’s delegation, Pascual underscored the Philippines’ potential to be a key player in the critical metals sector with the country’s significant nickel, copper, and cobalt reserves.

Leveraging these rich mineral reserves, the Philippines aspires to lead the global value chain for energy storage and electric vehicle production. Additionally, the amended Public Service Act now permits 100% foreign ownership of renewable energy sources to create an attractive investment climate.

Pascual also invited investments in lab-scale wafer fab facilities as he highlighted the country’s skilled workforce and existing foundation in software development as an advantage for US companies. He also called for swift implementation of US government support in workforce development as part of the CHIPS Act to facilitate plans to expand its role in the semiconductor industry beyond assembly and packaging.

The Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors and Science Act of 2022, or CHIPS and Science Act, was signed into law in August 2022 and aims to bolster US leadership in semiconductors.

The Philippine government also sought assistance from the US Department of Commerce on trade issues like detained apparel exports and shrimp paste shipments. Additionally, the Philippines took the opportunity to raise the current situation of Philippine electronics companies unable to bid on US government contracts due to a requirement in the US Trade Agreements Act.

“I am positive that this regular open communication of opportunities and obstacles will strengthen our relationship as long-standing and dependable allies,” Pascual said.

The US is the Philippines’ third-largest trading partner globally, with total trade values reaching approximately $20 billion. Notably, the US is the largest export market for Philippine goods, valued at $12 billion, and the fifth-largest import market, amounting to almost $8.5 billion.

The US has also consistently ranked among the top five sources of foreign direct investments in the Philippines in the past five years. Based on the latest figures from January to November 2023, the US is the fourth-largest FDI source for the Philippines, with a total value exceeding $110 million.