By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Tokyo, Japan – President Duterte witnessed Monday afternoon the signing of around 18 business deals worth US$6 billion in new investments and joint ventures.
The agreements signed were mostly in the areas of manufacturing such as shipbuilding, and iron and steel; agribusiness; power; renewable energy; transportation; infrastructure; mineral processing; retailing; information and communications technology; and information technology-business processing management.
Incoming Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who also witnessed the signing, said there were at least 18 agreements between Filipino and Japanese corporations signed Monday afternoon.
“I witnessed the signing. Marami naman diyan with the big multinational corporations and of course the counterpart are Filipino giant corporations as well,” Roque told Palace reporters in Tokyo.
“Pero kung ‘di ako nagkakamali (But if I’m not mistaken), there were at least 18 agreements that were witnessed by the President today,” he added.
According to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, President Duterte met several Japanese companies and witnessed several business-to-business Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), and Letter of Intent on Investment plans, joint ventures, and expansion of operations in the Philippines.
“PRRD strengthened our bilateral trade and investment relations. Total new investments of US$ 6 billion,” Lopez said in a text message sent to Palace reporters in Tokyo.
Lopez said he also had a bilateral meeting with his counterpart, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko, where they discussed improving market access and lowering tariff for the Philippines’ agricultural products such as banana, pineapple, and mango.
They also had discussions on Japan’s support to reach substantial conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, in Industrial Cooperation Dialogue, and in improving the supply chain for Japanese companies to benefit Philippine small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Lopez said Seko took note of Duterte’s request for tariff reduction in Filipino agricultural products and said it will be discussed in detail in the technical working group under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
According to Roque, the signing of the agreements proves the strong relationship between the Philippines and Japan, especially in the trade sector.
“It proves that Philippine-Japan relations continue to be very strong and it also proves that Japan continues to be one of our most active trading partners,” he said.
Roque added that the bulk of what was signed Monday afternoon were Japanese investments in the Philippines.
He also said that Japan remains confident in the Philippines due to commercial predictability, peace and order in the country, and conducive business environment where businesses are safe from unjust taking.
Last January, Japan committed ¥1 trillion worth of government assistance for the next five years.
The amount is intended for infrastructure and energy for Mindanao, job creation, public safety, information and communications technology, environment, agriculture, and calamity.
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