MANILA, Feb 21, 2019, PhilStar. The US-Philippine Society (USPS) plans to encourage American firms to invest more in the infrastructure sector in the Philippines as opportunities open up under the government’s Build Build Build (BBB) program, reported the Philippine Star.
Apart from infrastructure, the group also sees investment opportunities in other sectors such as energy, clothing manufacturing, information technology (IT) and tourism.
“There’s not as much infrastructure investment from the US as there could be. Our estimate is there should be,” USPS president John Maisto said in a press conference.
He said there are opportunities in the infrastructure sector in the Philippines as the government is pushing for projects under the BBB program.
He also said US President Donald Trump has signed the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development or the BUILD Act last year which would enable providing infrastructure investment from the US in emerging markets backed by the Overseas Private Investment Corp.
In addition to infrastructure, he said there are opportunities opening up in other sectors.
This as he said some US small and medium enterprises are interested to invest in energy, clothing manufacturing, IT and tourism.
The Philippines is considered an attractive location for investments given its talent pool.
“The Philippines builds on its strong human infrastructure. In our view, that is what the Philippines can offer,” Maisto said.
While there is interest to invest, he said there are questions on how to do business in the Philippines, as well as guarantees the government could offer investors.
As the USPS wants to strengthen the relationship of the two countries, the group also supports having a US-Philippine free trade agreement (FTA).
USPS co-chair John Negroponte said there are good possibilities seen in the two countries entering a FTA.
For his part, USPS co-chair Manuel V. Pangilinan said it would be beneficial for the Philippines to consider the FTA with the US.
“I think this is something the Philippines should seriously consider taking up because the US is one of the big markets available to us,” he said.
Earlier, Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said the Philippine government is waiting for the US to formally notify their Congress of the intent to start discussions for the FTA.
He said there is a need for the Office of the US Trade Representative to formally notify the US Congress of its intent to pursue talks for a bilateral trade agreement with the Philippines in line with their procedures.
Last July, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer reportedly said before the US Senate appropriations subcommittee that the US would want to have a trade deal with the Philippines.
Launched in 2012, the USPS aims to enhance and strengthen the Philippine-US relationship, while raising awareness of the Philippines through programs on business, governance, culture, shared history, education, strategic issues and conflict resolution.