By Godson Umejiego, Bureau Chief, The Americas
The United States and the Philippines enjoy an alliance and partnership based on deep historical, economic, and cultural ties, and our shared democratic values. The United States and the Philippines stand together as friends, partners, and allies. Now and always, the U.S. commitment to the defense of the Philippines is ironclad, and we are committed to strengthening our economic and investment relationship.
The Vice President’s travel to the Philippines reaffirms the bilateral alliance and will spur cooperation on a range of issues, including: advancing clean energy, addressing the climate crisis, promoting inclusive growth and innovation, increasing access to quality education and health resources, combating trafficking in persons, facing common security challenges, supporting freedom of the seas, and deepening people-to-people ties.
The Vice President is launching the following initiatives.
Climate Action, Energy Security, And Sustainable Infrastructure
Energy Policy Dialogue: The US Department of Energy, US Department of State, and Philippine Department of Energy will establish an Energy Policy Dialogue, a high-level platform for the two nations to develop new forms of energy cooperation, including on short and long-term energy planning, offshore wind development, and grid stability and power transmission.
Launching 123 Agreement Negotiations for Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation: The Vice President announced that the United States and the Philippines are initiating negotiations on a civil nuclear cooperation agreement (“123 agreement”) to support expanded cooperation on zero-emission energy and nonproliferation priorities. Once in force, this agreement will provide the legal basis for U.S. exports of nuclear equipment and material to the Philippines. The United States is committed to working with the Philippines to increase energy security and deploying advanced nuclear reactor technology as quickly as safety and security conditions permit to meet the Philippines’ dire baseload power needs. Such a deployment would support both energy security and climate goals, as well as support workers and businesses in both countries.
Critical Mineral Supply Chains: The United States, through the US Trade & Development Agency (USTDA), will support the development of a nickel and cobalt processing facility in the Philippines, which will expand the production of refined nickel and cobalt in the Philippines by 20,000 metric tons per year. The project will advance the sustainable development of critical minerals essential to the technologies for the clean energy transition.
Construction of a Geothermal Power Project in Mindanao: The United States, through USTDA, will partner with Philippine energy company Energy Development Corporation (EDC) to develop a geothermal project in Mindanao that will expand access to clean energy, reduce emissions, diversify the Philippines’ energy mix, and bring down energy costs for consumers.
Building the Project Pipeline: USTDA will open an office in US Embassy Manila to help US companies and financiers invest in the Philippine market, supporting the energy and infrastructure needs of the Philippines and the broader Indo-Pacific region. This office will ensure that USTDA’s current pipeline of bankable projects reach financial close and that new project opportunities are identified in partnership with the Asian Development Bank, US development finance institutions, private banks, and other country partners in the region. Partnering more strategically with regional financiers will ensure high-quality infrastructure projects are financed and implemented using US technology and expertise, creating mutual benefit among the Philippines, the United States, and the broader Indo-Pacific Region.
Indo-Pacific Smart and Secure Ports Development: Through this project, the United States will help build partner capacity to identify and mitigate cybersecurity risks in critical seaport infrastructure. It will also promote the use of trusted vendors for the installation and maintenance of digital and automated port infrastructure, as ports modernize and become “smarter” and “greener.”
Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement
The 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) builds on the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement, providing a legal basis for Philippine and American service members to undertake security cooperation exercises, pursue joint and combined military training activities, and rapidly respond to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts from agreed locations in the Philippines, on a rotational basis. EDCA sites have also been used by US and Philippine forces during Kamandag and Balikatan military exercises.
The United States has allocated over US$82 million towards EDCA implementation at all five existing locations. This investment, and forthcoming additional allotment, will complete 21 projects, enabling the United States and the Philippines to build lasting security infrastructure to promote long-term modernization, build a credible mutual defense posture, maintain humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities, and enhance the strength of the alliance.
New EDCA locations have also been identified to enable the United States and the Philippines to continue to work together towards achieving the agreed objectives under EDCA.
The United States has awarded the vast majority of contracts supporting these projects to Philippine companies, generating economic growth in local Philippine communities and building lasting friendships between the United States and Philippines.
Food Security & Sustainable Agriculture
Food Security Dialogue: The US Department of Agriculture, with participation from USAID and the US Department of State, will establish a food security dialogue with Philippine counterparts. This dialogue will enable the two nations to collaborate to create resilient food systems and discuss best practices for agricultural innovation and sustainability.
Bolstering Organic Agriculture in the Philippines: The US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) will issue a US$20 million loan to enable Agri Exim Global Philippines, Inc., a local processor of organic coconuts into derivative products, to grow its processing facilities in the Philippines, helping thousands of local farmers get organic certification and connect to global supply chains and customers.
Upskilling & The Digital Economy
Expanding Access to Reliable and Secure 5G Networks: The United States, through USTDA, intends to partner with Philippine telecom operator NOW Telecom for the deployment of 5G technologies in the Philippines. These efforts will provide faster and more reliable digital services and increased broadband internet access for Filipinos countrywide.
Launching Satellite Broadband Service: USAID is supporting the launch of the first Low Earth Orbit Satellite Broadband Service in Southeast Asia, in partnership with SpaceX Starlink, in the Philippines. Satellite broadband service will provide reliable and affordable internet access to marginalized populations throughout the Philippines, thereby improving access to education, professional training, and opportunity.
Providing Digital Opportunities to Small Businesses: USAID will launch a new Strengthening Private Enterprises for the Digital Economy (SPEED) award, a 5-year project that seeks to expand the participation of Philippine small and medium enterprises in the country’s emerging e-commerce ecosystem. The SPEED launch will include the nationwide launch of the Philippine eCommerce Alliance that will signal an industry-wide commitment to accelerating the rise of the Philippine digital economy. This program will promote the use of digital technologies to accelerate competitiveness, drive innovation, fuel job opportunities, and enhance the market reach of enterprises.
Empowering a New Generation of Highly Skilled Workers: USAID plans to support the new Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development Alliance. Leveraging US$5.3 million in private sector contributions from seven Philippine companies, this public-private partnership will work with government, industry, and academia to create a highly skilled and adaptive workforce that meets the evolving requirements of the high-tech manufacturing sector.
Investing in Women Entrepreneurs: DFC will provide a US$15.5 million loan guaranty through a framework agreement with Citibank to support ASA Philippines Foundation, a microfinance institution helping women entrepreneurs access capital and contribute to economic growth in the Philippines.
Human Rights And Health Security
Philippines-UN Joint Programme for Human Rights: The United States plans to support the three-year UN Joint Programme for Human Rights (UNJP), a critical initiative for promoting human rights in the Philippines. The United States financial contribution to the UNJP underscores our commitment to support the protection of human rights in the Philippines and enhancing the ability of the Philippines to fulfill its international human rights obligations and commitments.
Elevating the US-Philippines Health Security Partnership: Building on the United States’ more than US$46 million in assistance for the Philippines’ response to COVID-19 and our donation of 33.6 million safe and effective COVID vaccines, the United States intends to invest US$5 million to further accelerate vaccine rollout through the Global VAX initiative. The United States will also invest US$8 million, subject to the availability of funds, to strengthen our global health security partnership with the Philippine health system, which will help prevent avoidable outbreaks, detect health threats early, and respond rapidly and effectively when outbreaks occur. In addition the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) have established a new country office in the Philippines. These efforts reflect the United States’ prioritization of US-Philippines health partnership under the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA).
Healthcare for Veterans: In August, President Biden signed the PACT Act, a historic law that expands health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances and provides generations of Veterans and their families with the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve. The US Department of Veterans Affairs is ensuring Filipino veterans of the US military, and their families, can benefit from the PACT Act, including by launching a Tagalog-language version of the PACT Act claims portal.
Combating Trafficking in Persons: The United States is launching a new program with World Hope to combat the online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) and support OSEC survivors in the Philippines, reflecting our shared commitment to eliminating human trafficking and preventing children from being exploited by sex traffickers and online predators. https://www.whitehouse.gov