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COMMENTARY

Presidential visit innovations

05:02 AM June 12, 2019

Two welcome innovations were introduced during President Duterte’s visit to Japan last May 28 to 31. Because of their beneficial results, they should now be regular features of future presidential visits. The first is business matching to motivate even more future investments and jobs. The second is to include critical issue-oriented organizations to facilitate a global perspective and international engagements.

In the past, private sector participants in presidential trips learned from the meetings organized abroad and provide support to the President. This time, it was more than that.

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Thanks to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Japan-based Trade Counselor Dita Angara-Mathay, business matching was arranged between Filipino business executives and their Japanese counterparts.

In addition to witnessing the business agreements worth P300 billion which will generate 82,000 new jobs, additional new deals were discussed during separate business matching sessions. For these Filipinos, the visit was not just a learning and supportive experience, but also a productive opportunity for more business in the context of a presidential visit. Arrangements had been made prior to the trip to conduct these business matching sessions.

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Also, a seminar on the Philippine business environment was conducted for the prospective Japanese partners. Complementing this was a forum held by the hosts on Japan’s procedures and good practices.

The two additional events helped in setting the right stage to optimize the business matching sessions.

The second innovation was that the Department of Trade and Industry invited a critical issue-oriented organization to join the presidential trip. Though there were similar business matching opportunities for this organization, it was involved in helping address an important national concern. The organization was the Movement for Water Security (MWS).

Incorporated for transparency and accountability purposes and seek investment and job creation opportunities, the MWS also looked for new technologies, additional support and international arrangements that would bolster its drive for water security.
In addition to the MWS’ business matching sessions, the DTI arranged for a two-hour meeting between MWS and the Asia-Pacific Water Forum (APWF). The current APWF president is former Japan Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, while the Japan Water Forum serves is its secretariat. Three senior APWF secretariat officials led by director Ryutaro Hashimoto met with the MWS delegation in their Tokyo headquarters.

They welcomed the MWS and looked forward to MWS joining the APWF, since they had not yet gotten any significant involvement from the Philippines. They said they were impressed by the broad participation of several sectors from both business and civil society, as concluded from the MWS leadership. MWS officials at the meeting were its chair, former Governor Roberto Pagdanganan, Boy Scouts of the Philippines senior vice president and 9-year president of the League of Provincial Governors; vice chairs for internal, external, and Flagship Programs: Danilo Faustino, president of the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food; Chris Ilagan, chair of the Philippine water partnership; architect Lui Daya- Garcia, chair of Green Restorative Action and Sustainability, and vice president for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao; Roberto Amores, president of Philfoodex, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Daniel Mercado, Rotary official and former Tourism assistant secretary, and TOWNS/The Outstanding Filipino Hilly Roa-Quiaoit, executive director of the Cagayan River Basin.

Making this partnership more meaningful, APWC made two commitments in their 2017 Declaration that are much needed in the Philippines where we can avail ourselves of their support: “integrate water cycle analysis and related policies at the water basin level” and “increase water productivity in irrigation and drainage to achieve food security and sustainable agriculture.”

To achieve maximum effectiveness, business matching and the inclusion of critical issue-oriented organizations must now be regular features of future presidential visits.

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The author is Agriwatch chair, former secretary of presidential programs and projects, and former undersecretary of agriculture and trade and industry. Contact is agriwatch_phil@yahoo.com

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