THE US Embassy said a trade and investment mission will visit the Philippines in March to explore investment opportunities.
“In March next year, the Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo will be leading a delegation of very senior US investors and chief executive officers of companies that are looking for expanded opportunities in the Philippines,” according to Paul Taylor, commercial counselor of the US Embassy in the Philippines, at the Cagayan de Oro Investment Forum 2023 on Thursday.
“This will be a very high level of engagement between the US and the Philippines on how we can tie our economies together more closely to commercial and investment engagements,” he added.
The mission is tied to the US-organized Indo-Pacific Business Forum and will involve a delegation to Manila representing 100 or more US companies.
Mr. Taylor said that the trade mission will also follow the recently concluded and “successful” agriculture technology trade mission organized by the US Department of Commerce.
That mission concluded on Wednesday, during which Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual pitched opportunities in agriculture, infrastructure, logistics, telecommunications, and food production enhancement programs.
In a statement on Thursday, the Department of Trade and Industry said US companies have signaled potential interest in partnerships involving hybrid seed and genetically modified farm products, precision agriculture, and food and beverage industrialization.
According to Mr. Taylor, Philippine investments will ideally seek out opportunities that can scale up in agriculture, particularly in Mindanao.
He said Mindanao “has the capacity to not only feed the Philippines, but to feed much of the world through increased and improved efficiencies in the agricultural sector.”
He added that improving market efficiency could help the Philippines sustain itself through local production rather than depending on imports.
“The Philippines can (address) food security through imports and local production at the moment. I think it’s relatively easy to argue that the Philippines is much too dependent on imported products simply because of the lack of efficiencies in the market,” he said.
“And that’s where US investment can really help facilitate improvements. I may sound overly focused on the agriculture sector and that is partly because I know that in Cagayan de Oro and all of Mindanao, that would be what might be called the low hanging fruit; that’s where much of the potential is available,” he added.
Mr. Taylor said that the US companies will continue to look for market and investment opportunities in the country and he committed to helping to connect them to the opportunities seen in Cagayan de Oro.
“Foreign investors, for better or worse, will look for the least-risk opportunity and the easiest investment environment to work in. Cagayan de Oro has an opportunity to take advantage of that and create greater ease of doing business,” he added. — Justine Irish D. Tabile