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President nets $672m investment pledges from 6-day APEC US trip

BACK HOME FROM HAWAII. President Marcos delivers his speech Monday night after arriving at Villamor Air Force Base in Pasay City from his six-day official visit to the US to attend the APEC Summit. PCO Photo
Charles Dantes & Maricel Cruz

President Marcos arrived Monday night from a six-day US trip in which he secured $672 million (about P37.18 billion) in investment pledges while participating in the 30th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit and related activities.

“Altogether, we return to the Philippines with more or less $670 million in investment pledges that have the potential to create thousands of jobs for Filipinos,” the President said in his arrival statement.

“In the APEC Leaders’ Meeting, I pushed for our priorities in clean, renewable, accessible energy, food and health systems, and digital inclusions of MSMEs,” he added.

He also announced that the Philippines will host the 2024 Indo-Pacific Business Forum that will be attended by “a high-level business delegation formed by US President Joe Biden” that will look at possible investments in the country.

“This is a new feature. There has never been a presidential delegation to the country before,” Mr. Marcos said.

He also hailed the signing of a the-called 123 Agreement that will enable the Philippines to buy nuclear material, equipment, and technology from the United States.

“This paves the way for streamlining licensing requirements while ensuring the highest safeguards. This will bring us closer to a more energy-secure and green Philippines,” he said.

The Presidential Communication Office said the pledges include $400 million (P22.1 billion) for the telecommunications sector; $250 million (P13.8 billion) for semiconductors and electronics; $20 million (P1.1 billion) in pharmaceutical and health care; $2 million (P110 million) for artificial intelligence (AI) for weather forecasting; and $300,000 (P16.6 million) in renewable energy.

During his visit, President Marcos also secured significant commitments to technological advancements across key priority sectors in the Philippines, including the deployment of the first two Internet MicroGEO satellites dedicated to the country.

President Marcos’ participation in APEC also resulted in the Philippines’ inaugural specialty oncology hospital, enhancing service efficiency and accessibility for Filipino cancer patients through an agreement between Ayala Corporation Health and Varian Medical Systems.

Additionally, the country secured the first US FDA-approved manufacturing facility, boosting its presence in the global pharmaceutical industry, and signed an agreement for a sustainable energy project with Meralco and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp.

Both countries also agreed to discuss a $1 billion investment in the semiconductor industry with US companies and strengthening the Philippines’ semiconductor supply chain.

On the last day of his visit in Hawaii, the President remembered Filipinos and Filipino-Americans who perished in the Aug. 15 wildfire in Maui.

US authorities said the number of people known to have died in the wildfire that leveled a Hawaiian town reached 106.

“We had been monitoring the situation in Maui and we sympathize with the Filipinos affected,” Marcos said in a speech during a meeting with the Filipino community in Honolulu.

“We pray for strength and courage for the relatives and friends of those fatalities as well as those who are still recovering and rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of that terrible disaster.”

Mr. Marcos said he and First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos truly appreciated seeing the Filipinos in Hawaii to celebrate the close connection that the Philippines has with the island state.

With 25 percent of the population of the state of Hawaii having roots in the Philippines, the rich and diverse culture of Filipinos has become deeply intertwined in Hawaiian culture.

Mr. Marcos lauded them for giving the Philippines a very positive image in Hawaii.

“Thank you for all that you do for our country. And this is the characteristic that I have found everywhere that I go,” he said.

“And over the many years that Filipinos have been working abroad, and not only in the United States, not only in Hawaii, but wherever I go, I always tell everyone about the greatness of the Filipino, who is industrious, kind, trustworthy and speak English very well,” Marcos said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The President arrived in Honolulu for a working visit after attending the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in San Francisco, California, and a short visit in Los Angeles to also meet the Filipinos there.

Speaker Martin G. Romualdez congratulated the President for securing significant investment pledges worth $672.3 million and opening areas of cooperation that are particularly important to the Philippines.

“President Marcos Jr.’s adept leadership and diplomatic prowess were evident in the significant investment commitments garnered and making inroads for mutually beneficial cooperation with various sectors in the United States,” Romualdez said.

In a press briefing Saturday afternoon at the Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii, President Marcos noted that while the amount of investment pledges were not as in the billions as those secured in his other trips abroad, these are in “areas we are very concerned about” such as in technology, health care, energy, and security.

Romualdez said the House of Representatives is committed to working with the executive branch to ensure the smooth implementation of the various investment commitments and partnerships.

“We support any legislative measures necessary to create an environment conducive to the success of these endeavors,” Romualdez said.

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