NEW YORK: President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Wednesday pushed for partnerships with American investors to speed up the Philippines' recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
In his remarks during a dialogue with members of the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Business Council and the US Chamber of Commerce here, Marcos expressed hope that the Philippines and investors from the US would be able "to find ways to partner."
"We really have to leverage whatever assets, whatever capabilities, whatever we have so that we can maximize our ability to grow and to pull the economy," he said.
"Let us find new ways to partner. Let us find new ways to develop. Let us find new ways to strengthen this relationship between the United States, Asean and the Philippines. And in that way, the synergies that we will find in that kind of relationship will be to the benefit of us all," he said.
Marcos, who is in the US for a six-day official visit, also discussed his administration's bilateral economic and investment agenda, according to a statement released by state-run Radio Television Malacañang on a Facebook post.
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For more than 35 years, the US-Asean Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the region.
The council is also an avenue where the US private sector promotes mutually beneficial trade and investment relations between the US and Southeast Asia — the leading investment destination of the US in the Indo-Pacific.
The US Chamber of Commerce, on the other hand, is an assembly of small businesses and chambers of commerce across the US that support communities, leading industry organizations and international corporations that provide solutions to global challenges.
At the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Monday, Marcos said the Philippines has a robust and resilient economy, reinforced by "sound policies and decisive leadership."
"Despite external headwinds, the Philippine economy's resilience — reinforced by sound policies and decisive leadership — makes us confident about our future," he said in his speech.
The President said he looked forward to more investments in public infrastructure, energy, and agriculture, as well as for the digitalization of the Philippines.
He said the United States "has been among our steady partners. For that, we are truly grateful. At the same time, American companies doing business in the Philippines have benefited significantly from our economic successes."
The US is the Philippines' third largest trading partner and second major source of foreign direct investment applications in 2021.
The President stressed that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the Philippines' economy remains "robust" since 2021 and is on track to achieving its goal of becoming an "upper-middle-income" country in the coming years.
To be recognized as an upper-middle-income economy, a country must reach the World Bank's gross national income (GNI) per capita threshold of $4,256 to $13,205.
In 2021, the Philippines' GNI per capita rose to $3,640 from $3,430 in 2020 or at the height of the pandemic, according to World Bank data.
Marcos also met with the top executives of the American global food corporation Cargill to explore possible cooperation in agriculture.
"We discussed how to attain food security and self-sufficiency, and explored ways to boost agricultural productivity in the Philippines," he said.
Cargill provides agricultural products and farming services and risk management solutions worldwide.
It has around 155,000 employees in over 70 countries or regions.
The President met with Cargill executives after he spoke before the United Nations General Assembly.
In his speech, Marcos called for stronger cooperation with other UN members to boost food security in the Philippines amid the disruption of the global food supply due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
"We need to take concrete steps toward a modern and resilient agriculture. For food is not just a trade commodity nor a livelihood; it is an existential imperative, and a moral one. It is the very basis of human security," he said.
Marcos also held meetings with officials of other American companies.
In a Facebook post, the President said he and former British prime minister Tony Blair "explored concrete ways" to address priority issues in the global economy, such as food security, climate action and trade.
They also tackled the peace process in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.
Blair is the executive chairman of the Tony Blair Institute For Global Change.
Accompanying the President on his US trip were first lady Marie Louise "Liza" Araneta-Marcos, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo and Speaker Martin Romualdez.