The governments of the Philippines and India plan to explore ways of enhancing economic cooperation, especially in the areas of “financial and digital technologies” as well as infrastructure development.
In a statement, the Department of Finance (DOF) said there are numerous mutually beneficial opportunities open to the Philippines and India as economic partners in the Indo-Pacific region.
During a virtual courtesy call on Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, India Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran, said they are interested in strengthening their cooperation with Manila in the fields of banking and finance.
In particular, Kumaranon said they may expand the use of fintech to help attain the government’s goal of financial inclusion for all Filipinos.
“Ambassador Kumaran said India can lend its expertise to the Philippines in setting up its national broadband network as well as its national ID system,” the DOF said.
Dominguez welcomed the Ambassador’s offer of assistance and invited Indian companies to participate in the upcoming rollout of a shared cyber-defense plan for Philippine state-run banks and their subsidiaries.
He also expressed his appreciation for India’s interest in helping the government implement its digital transformation programs that aim to expand financial inclusion among Filipinos, upgrade the delivery of frontline government services and further curb official corruption.
During the same virtual meeting, Kumaran also said Indian companies are interested in taking part in the “Build, Build, Build” program but are in need of more information on the various opportunities available to them.
To assist prospective investors on this concern, Dominguez and Kumaran agreed to help organize a webinar or online workshop where the Philippines can showcase the various opportunities open to India's companies on infrastructure development.
The finance chief mentioned during the meeting that an Indian company—GMR Infrastructure Ltd.—is already taking part in the “Build, Build, Build” program and has performed impressively in operating the Mactan Cebu International Airport and expanding the Clark International Airport.
The Philippines and India rekindled their bilateral ties with the official visits of President Duterte to India in 2017 and 2018, which were followed by a state visit of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind to the Philippines in October 2019.
India and the Philippines celebrated last year their 70 years of diplomatic relations, which were established on November 16, 1949.
“Both countries are poised to strongly bounce back in 2021 from the economic impact of the lingering COVID-19 pandemic,” DOF said.