Japan vows $15b in new aid—Duterte


JAPAN has committed more than $6 billion in fresh investments to the Philippines, on top of the 1 trillion yen (about P433 billion or $9 billion) aid package for the next five years in support of the country’s economic and infrastructure development as President Rodrigo Duterte began his second visit to Tokyo Monday.

Duterte, who met with reelected Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, underscored the “golden age of strategic partnership” between Manila and Tokyo.

“Our commitment and resolve show the desire to further expand cooperative ties. I therefore say that considering what we have achieved, the Philippines and Japan are building a golden age of strategic partnership,” Duterte said in his joint press statement with Abe in Tokyo. 

“It is a commitment founded on democratic values we hold dear. It’s a resolve that has stood the test of time. Working together, we shall have much to show and be proud of in the years to come,” he added. 

Duterte said he was pleased with Japan’s commitment to help the Philippines to the tune of 1 trillion yen.

“Fresh 1-trillion yen or close to $9-billion assistance to the Philippines.” 

“This covers huge impact and high value infrastructure projects that my country needs to sustain and spur our economic growth,” he said.

ABE GREETS DUTERTE. President Rodrigo Duterte (left) is welcomed Monday by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the latter’s official residence in Tokyo. Duterte is the first country official that met with Abe after the latter won a snap election. Duterte is set to hold talks with Abe in Tokyo, with the North Korean nuclear crisis expected to be high on the agenda. AFP

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the latest round of investments involving 18 companies “strengthens the bilateral trade and investment relations” between the Philippines and Japan. 

“President Rodrigo Duterte met several Japanese companies and witnessed several B-B MOUs [business-to-business memoranda of understanding] and letters of intent on investment plans, joint ventures and expansion of operations in the Philippines,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a statement.

“Total new investments [are expected to reach] $6 billion,” he added.

Japanese investments were expected to pour into the areas of manufacturing, shipbuilding, iron and steel, agribusiness, power, renewable energy, transportation, infrastructure, mineral processing, retailing, information and communication technology, and business process management, Lopez said. 

The trade chief said he also met with his Japanese Trade and Industry Minister  Hiroshige Seko to discuss ways on improving market access and lowering tariff of Philippine agricultural products like banana, pineapple and mango.

Japan expressed support to reach substantial conclusion of the  Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership led by Asean, Lopez said. 

The trade ministers said they will work to improve the supply chain for Japanese companies to benefit Philippine small and medium enterprises.

In a statement, Abe said that Japan will steadily implement its one-trillion-yen pledge to Manila, to “actively support the efforts of the Duterte administration.” 

Among the projects that will be supported by Tokyo are:

Infrastructure cooperation in Metro Manila and rural areas, including the railway programs for an integrated Manila metropolitan subway project and North-South commuter railway from Clark-Los Baños and the establishment of a railway training school; regional development including construction of roads and bridges; improvement of connectivity between Metro Manila and local cities; stimulation of local investment (Cebu, Davao etc.); and infrastructure projects for disaster prevention–river improvement in the Metro Manila area and Mindanao (Davao), and flood risk management. 

In energy, Japan and the Philippines agreed to cooperate with the introduction of electric and LNG related infrastructure based on its “Action plan in the Philippine electric power field” proposed by Japan. 

Japan will also provide restoration and reconstruction assistance of Marawi City and its surrounding areas, based on the Philippine government’s post-conflict needs survey. 

Other areas of cooperation between the two countries are job creation and improving of living standards, public safety, telecommunications, environment, agriculture and disaster prevention. 

In the same message, Duterte said that he is “sincerely grateful for the kindness and compassion” of Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, during their visit to the country last year. 

“I am eager to convey my deep respect and admiration for his majesty,” he said. 

The President’s visit to Japan comes ahead of Abe’s attendance at the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Manila in November.

Although not an Asean member, Japan is among the dialogue partners invited to the summit.

In 2017 alone, loans from Japan amounted to $4.84 billion, which is 44.83 percent of the total official development assistance received by the country during that period.

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