MANILA - United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim on Tuesday said the Philippine economy "can do so much better" due to the population's "tremendous potential."
Kim said he saw this potential even before being assigned to Manila through the 4 million Filipinos working in the US.
"There is tremendous potential here in the Philippines. It's a very young population, a hardworking population," Kim told ANC's Early Edition over Korean and Mexican dishes at his official residence in Manila.
"There is tremendous strength and depth to America because we are such a diverse society and I think that will continue to keep us going strong," he said.
Filipino businessmen should look for investment opportunities in the US despite President Donald Trump's America First policy, Kim said.
"What the President (Trump) emphasized is we wanna promote trade but what we are looking for is fair and reciprocal trade," he said.
Kim, who was assigned to Manila in November 2016, said having more economic partnerships between the Philippines and the United States would help strengthen ties between the two nations.
"All I can say to those who have questions about the relationship is look at what we are doing together rather than focusing on public statements," Kim said.
"If you look at what the two governments are doing together, what the two militaries are doing together, I think you will get a good sense of the depth of the relationship," he added.
US forces helped in the 5-month campaign against Islamic State-inspired extremists in Marawi City, providing technical information, technical advise, and equipment, he said.
Kim said the US also earmarked a P750 million in aid that would address immediate, medium-term, and long-term rehabilitation projects.
The US is keen on putting up educational programs in the southern Philippines that would steer the youth away from extremism, Kim said.
"It is important to help these young people make smart decisions and to resist when these evil people try to recruit them for evil purposes," he said.