Why US firms want to invest in the Philippines

by Jon Carlos Rodriguez, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Jun 04 2014 04:47 PM | Updated as of Jun 05 2014 10:54 PM

MANILA, Philippines – US companies are looking to boost economic and commercial partnerships in the Philippines and in its ASEAN neighbors due to the region’s growth potential in the next 10 years.

US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who is in Manila to meet with President Aquino and other officials, said the US government and top American businesses aim to deepen trade investment ties with existing partners in the region.

“The Asia-Pacific region will be an engine of global growth over the next decade, which will have profound impact on how and where the world does business. American firms want to be part of this solution, as countries across the region look to support a growing middle class, develop world class infrastructure, unleash sustainable energy, and invest in their futures,” Pritzker said during the joint meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), the Makati Business Club, and the Management Association of the Philippines in Makati City on Wednesday.

Why US firms want to invest in the Philippines 1 US Commerce Sec. Penny Pritzker gives remarks on US economic ties in Asia-Pacific

Pritzker said that studies show that by 2022, the Asia-Pacific region will be home to 54 percent of the world’s middle class and will be importing more than $10 trillion worth of goods and services.

She also said that by 2020, more than $1 trillion in infrastructure investments is needed in ASEAN to meet the demands of a growing population.

“Our firms are here for the long-term and want to help reach your goals,” she said.

Pritzker noted that the recently signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the two countries supports the "regional stability which has underpinned Asia's economic growth for six decades."

“President Obama has highlighted the Philippines’ growing economic dynamism,” she said.

Pritzker also lauded the efforts of the Aquino administration in implementing economic and institutional reforms and for improving intellectual property protection, collecting taxes, and the country’s sovereign debt rating.

AmCham president Rhicke Jennings, meanwhile, said the $24 billion a year trade relationship between the Philippines and the US is “growing with heightened interest from the American business community in these golden times in the Philippines renaissance.”

Pritzker arrived in Manila Monday night, along with a delegation of top executives from US companies such as ACE Limited, AES Corporation, Marsh & McLennan, UL, General Atlantic, Rio Tinto, and Mead Johnson Nutrition.

She said these firms are eager to invest in information technology, infrastructure, telecommunications, clean energy, financial services, education, and healthcare.

PH investments

AES Corporation president and chief executive officer Andres Gluski said the energy firm is looking to open a regional office and expand its operations in the Philippines.

Gluski said AES Corporation is looking to invest around $1.2 billion for a 1,200-megawatt power plant in Masinloc, Zambales.

Pritzker, on the other hand, cited the deal between transport group Pasang Masda and US firm Pangea Motors for 10,000 e-jeepney units or Comets (City Optimized Managed Electric Transport) through the joint venture Global Electric Transport.

She said the venture will not only earn profit but will also create jobs here and in the US. The units were designed in the US and will be manufactured here in the Philippines.

“This is the very definition of a win-win for both our nations in a modern global economy,” she said.

Pritzker and the US delegation will end their Asian trip with a final stop in Burma. This is Pritzker's third trip to Asia since she was sworn in as the 38th US Secretary of Commerce last year.

Pritzker said the US is supporting regional mechanisms in Asia such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, and the ASEAN Economic Community.