US firms express interest in PH investments
MANILA, Philippines – Several big US firms have expressed interest to either invest or expand their business interests in the Philippines during a roundtable discussion with President Benigno Aquino III in Chicago on Wednesday, May 6.
Executives of US firms with Philippine operations also lauded the "competence and talent" of Filipino workers during the roundtable discussion at the TransUnion building organized by the US-ASEAN Business Council, the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-states.
Business executives who were at the meeting included members of the US Chamber of Commerce (USCC), the world’s largest business organization representing the interest of more than 3 million businesses in the US.
It was also attended by the National Center for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the only US business association focused on facilitating private sector engagement in the APEC.
Infra dev't, mining, agribusiness
Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a statement that during the discussion, Thomas La France, senior executive of GE Transportation "expressed interest in participating in the country’s infrastructure development efforts."
"President Aquino replied that being an archipelagic country, the Philippines needs to improve connectivity by expanding the existing nautical highway, improving roll-on-roll off and port facilities. Possibilities for improving the country’s railway system were also mentioned," Coloma said.
Julie Hoeniges of Caterpillar Inc told Aquino that her company was looking into expanding its involvement in the Philippines, especially in the mining sector.
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, a member of the presidential delegation, apprised the US executives on the Philippine government’s program to ensure that mining activities in the country "are conducted in a socially responsible manner and that local governments and communities obtain a fair share of the revenues," Coloma said.
Michael Fernandes of Cargill told Aquino that his company, which has been operating in the Philippines since 1948, is planning to increase its investments in the agribusiness sector.
Fernandes also welcomed the issuance of Executive Orders 179 and 180 on the use of the coconut levy funds to promote the growth of the industry and the welfare of coconut farmers, Coloma said.
Ralph Carter, Federal Express managing director for legal, trade and international affairs, spoke about his company’s involvement in improving the Philippines’ links with the global supply chain, Coloma said.
Aquino then said that there are high-quality marble products in the Philippine province of Romblon that needed to be transported to international markets.
In response, Carter expressed willingness to assist in transporting marble and also discussed ways to improve trade facilitation.
Satisfaction with PH operations
Coloma said other executives shared the experience of their respective firms in the Philippines, among them, Melissa Bean, JP Morgan Chase & Company’s US Midwest Chairwoman, who "expressed great satisfaction with the competence and talent of Filipino workers."
"Noting the company’s existence in the Philippines since 2005, she said JP Morgan’s service centers in the country have more than 13,000 employees," the Palace official said.
Coloma said a senior officer of Microsoft reaffirmed the company’s commitment to improve the competitiveness of Filipino talent, and mentioned a joint project between Microsoft and the Philippine National Police in cyber-security.
He also said that David Neenan, president of International TransUnion, expressed his company’s appreciation of the Philippine government’s thrust of promoting inclusive growth.
Neenan informed the President about TransUnion's efforts in working with the Land Bank of the Philippines in assisting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to gain access to financing.
Aquino told the organizers and participants at the roundtable discussion that he will use their feedback to help his government improve the Philippine business climate.
At the end of the discussion, Aquino was given two NBA player jerseys: a red Chicago Bulls jersey and a green Boston Celtics jersey.
Coloma said the Chicago Bulls jersey is in honor of the President’s working visit to Chicago, while the Boston Celtics Jersey was because Aquino was a Celtics fan when his family lived in exile in Boston.
Other Philippine officials at the meeting were Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, and Presidential Management Staff head Julia Abad.
They were joined by Foreign Undersecretary Laura del Rosario, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia Jr, and Consul General Generoso Calonge.
Aquino also met with the Filipino community in Chicago where he stayed for for only one day before proceeding to Canada for a state visit. – Rappler.com
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