By Lee C. Chipongian
United States and Japan governments are working together to increase assistance – financial, technical and advisory – to the Philippines to enhance the country’s capability to deal with security concerns such as on digital technology and infrastructure.
US Deputy Chief of Mission to the Philippines, John C. Law, said the long-term goal of the US government is to improve and expand the economic and investment relationship between the Philippines and the US, and they are partnering with Japan to ensure prospects materialize and there is sustainable and continued economic domestic growth.
“We think the Japanese are doing a fantastic job on the infrastructure development, but that’s a particular project (Manila Subway) where many US companies are also involved (as subcontractors) we think that there are great opportunities for Japanese and US companies to be working together as they have been and on development assistance … security assistance for example that’s another area where we believe the US and Japan have very similar goals and we can work together to complement each others’ efforts and that’s what has been happening,” Law said on the sidelines of the 45th Philippine Business Conference & Expo hosted by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where he talked about the Philippine-US trade and investment relations.
During his presentation, he told PBC participants that on infrastructure, the “US has a targeted approach where we need private sector investments to meet regional needs (and) we believe US resources will have the greatest impact in digital economy, energy and infrastructure sectors.”
Law said that currently, the US government is supporting Philippine government efforts on civil aviation procurement expansion, roll out of the national broadbrand network, and development of cloud-computing capabilities.
“We are confident (that) with coordination with the American Chamber of Commerce (in the Philippines), US (companies) continue to seek avenues (for investments),” he said. “We’re also focusing in commercial opportunities in the transportation and IT sectors.”
This is where Law said the US and Japan are working closely together to assist Philippine authorities in security issues, transportation, among other sectors.
“We’re undertaking numerous programs to connect US companies with key decision makers in the Philippines to ensure that the latest, state of the art technologies are available to the Filipino people and the Philippine economy.”
Law cited programs and projects undertaken by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) where US companies are very active on. “US companies are working closely together with Japanese partners to identify ways to work together on infrastructure projects in the Philippines and also in the region,” he said.
The cooperation between US and Japan currently centers on technical and advisory functions such as the JICA-led P390-billion Metro Manila subway project which is expected to be operational by 2025.
Aside from infrastructure programs, US companies and Japanese counterparts are also helping the country to set up what Law said was “viable” Internet services in the Philippines.
On the issue of the US-China trade conflict, the American diplomat said while it’s “always enormous fun and dangerous” for any US official to give predictions either on the trade conflict or who will win in the 2020 US presidential election, Law said “There can be differences between administrations of course but the goal of the Trump administration is to secure a better and more equitable sustainable trade and economic relationship with China and we are certainly working toward that every day and we hope that ongoing efforts is going to result in positive developments but of course its an ongoing process.”