‘Powerhouse’ US trade mission coming to Manila

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11:35 PM January 21st, 2013

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By: Riza T. Olchondra, January 21st, 2013 11:35 PM

Trade and business leaders in the Philippines are preparing investment pitches ahead of the arrival of a “powerhouse” American trade mission to Manila this week.

With a lot of “heavyweights” visiting Manila, it is a good chance for Philippine leaders to pitch various investment options, officials said.

The Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., said in a statement that a “powerhouse” American trade mission—composed of representatives from Citigroup, Chevron, Coca Cola, General Electric, JP Morgan Chase, Procter & Gamble, Peregrine Development International, CV Starr & Co., the US Education Finance Group, McLarty & Associates, Federal Express and Spence & Co.—was visiting Manila from Jan. 23 to 25 to promote greater trade and investment between the United States and the Philippines.

Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said in a text message that the visit of the trade mission was facilitated by the US-Philippine Society (co-chaired by businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan) and Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose L. Cuisia Jr. on the Philippine side.

“The Apec business advisory council has been here since this weekend. Lots of heavyweights,” Domingo said.

Outgoing Trade Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio, who is in charge of trade promotion, said that among the scheduled activities of the trade mission included a visit to the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (Citem) pavilion in Pasay City. “We will ‘sell’ investments in all major sectors of the Investment Promotions Plan,” Panlilio said in a text message.

The Philippines aims to generate some P400 billion in investment commitments this year from P360 billion in 2012.

The US-Philippines Society is a non-profit independent organization that seeks to raise the profile of the Philippines in the US. The Society, which was formally established during the visit to Washington last year of President Aquino, is co-chaired by former US Ambassador to the Philippines John Negroponte.

“The delegation will participate in a dynamic program aimed at strengthening ties with political and business leaders, fostering discussion of strategic issues, and promoting business and investment opportunities,” said Cuisia in a statement.

Cuisia said the delegation will call on President Aquino and Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and participate in a policy forum with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Domingo.

The program also includes a meeting with US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr.; a dialogue with business leaders organized by the Makati Business Club; and  visits to the Global Gateway Logistics City at the Clark Freeport in Pampanga and the Asian Institute of Management.

The Policy Forum will also feature Ambassador Negroponte and two other former ambassadors to Manila—Thomas Hubbard and Richard Murphy—who will discuss the strategic environment in the region and the outlook for policy directions as the second term of President Barack Obama begins in Washington, Cuisia said.

Cuisia said the delegation would also attend the second regular meeting of the Board of Directors, composed of civic and business leaders from the US and the Philippines.

The other members of the board, aside from Pangilinan and Negroponte,  are Washington Z. Sycip and Maurice Greenberg, honorary co-chairs; Cuisia, ex-officio board member; Ambassador John Maisto, president; Ambassador Hank Hendrickson, executive director; and lawyer Leo Canseco, legal counsel.

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