PH-US agree on civil nuclear, trade deliverables

The Philippines and US governments have agreed on two deliverables -- civil nuclear and trade cooperation – to help address the former’s energy deficiency problem and boost bilateral trade encouraged by the return of warm relations between the two allies.

During the Makati Business Club (MBC) General Membership Meeting with US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson on the topic “Indo-Pacific Partners: Growth & Stability for US, PH & the Region”, the Ambassador shared that the 10th Bilateral Strategic Dialogue held last week discussed the full range of the two countries' relationship, economic development issues rule of law, defense and security, global and regional challenges.

“We made progress in a number of areas and I'd like to share just two of those notable deliverables from our discussions last week,” she told MBC members.

One deliverable, she said, is in the area of civil nuclear cooperation. According to Carlson, both the US and Philippine governments agreed to hold in the coming weeks the first official consultations to prepare for 123 agreement negotiations.

“Completing a 123 agreement will allow for greater civil nuclear cooperation, including the export of nuclear technology. This will be the first step in bringing nuclear power to help address the Philippine energy needs,” she said.

Another significant deliverable was in the subject of trade missions where both parties agreed to support multiple trade missions in 2023, the ambassador said.

“This will bring us exporters involved in agriculture, energy, technology and other industries to the Philippines to explore business opportunities. And in May, we will also take Philippine companies interested in investing in the United States to the Select USA Summit,” she added. She further urged members of the MBC to join the Select USA Summit.

She noted of the growing commercial service at the US embassy in Manila to support trade and assist Philippine business partners.

Carlson has encouraged both partners to identify sectors like energy critical minerals or semiconductors in which to invest and provide technical assistance.

She further urged the private sector to share expert inputs to meet the development needs of the Philippines. For it is “When the Philippines is strong and developed, the United States is strong ... we have your back and we know you have ours as well.”

Already, bilateral trade between the Philippines and the US is thriving. While the final numbers are not yet in, Carlson said that total trade in 2022 will top $33 billion, a record. This means, she said, the Philippine exports to the United States will exceed 21 billion US dollars, which will make the United States again the Philippine top export market.

The ambassador also noted of more interests by big American firms in the Philippines. “We hear about more deals both big and small every week. And we also hear that warm relations are why more and more American companies are coming,” she noted.

She cited that the visit of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to the New York Stock Exchange last fall and his meetings with American business leaders delivered a strong message to US companies that the Philippines is open for business.

In fact, her recent meeting with executives from one American company of its plan to invest in a Philippine based service center that will create over 1,000 jobs.

“They credited in their words, the positive tone of the relationship, particularly President Marcos as one reason for their investment plans,” she added.

The relatively stable situation makes the Philippines an attractive investment destination for American companies, she said.

“Simply put, we have great momentum, momentum to support greater government to government collaboration, as well as private sector engagement,” she said.