PHL, Japan set for high-level meeting on infrastructure

Philippine and Japanese officials are set to meet in the island of Mactan in Cebu on Feb. 12 to discuss the progress in the Duterte administration’s flagship infrastructure projects that Japan has committed to help finance through soft loans.

The meeting of the Philippines-Japan High-Level Committee on Infrastructure and Economic Cooperation is set at the Shangrila Mactan in Lapu-Lapu City and will be the fourth such dialogue to be held between the officials of the two countries since the first was held in Tokyo in March last year.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III will chair the Philippine delegation to the high-level meeting, which will also include key members of the government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure team.

The Japanese side will be led by Dr. Hiroto Izumi, who is Special Adviser to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

After attending the 31st ASEAN Summit and its Related Meetings in Manila hosted by President Duterte in November last year, Prime Minister Abe stayed behind for an official visit to personally witness the signing of several agreements with the Philippines, most notable of which was the Exchange of Notes for the JPY104.5 billion loan (about $929.1 million) to fund the first tranche of loan requirements for the construction of the Metro Manila Subway Project (Phase 1) of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Dominguez, on behalf of the Philippine government, signed a 15.93 billion yen (approx. $142 million) loan agreement with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Chief Representative to the Philippines Susumu Ito for a project that aims to control and mitigate flooding in several areas in Cavite that host economic zones and residential communities.

The Cavite Industrial Area Flood Risk Management Project, which will be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), stands to benefit some 8,000 households as well as manufacturing plants in the cities of General Trias and Imus and the municipalities of Kawit, Noveleta and Rosario in Cavite.

Manila and Tokyo also signed during Prime Minister Abe’s November visit the JPY9.399 billion loan (about $89 million) for the Arterial Road Bypass Project (Phase III) of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Plaridel, Bulacan; and the JPY2.5 billion (about $22.2 million) grant for the Non-Project Grant Aid for the Economic and Social Development Programme, which will benefit the Philippine Coast Guard’s anti-terrorism efforts and DPWH’s quick rehabilitation program for Marawi City.

Prime Minister Abe announced during his first visit to the country in January 2017 a total of ¥1 trillion ($9 billion) in official development assistance (ODA) and investments to the Philippines for the next five years.

When President Duterte returned to Japan in October 2017, a year after his official visit to that country in 2016, he witnessed the signing of 18 letters of intent by 20 Japanese companies to invest in the Philippines, which represent about $6 billion-worth of new investments.

These include deals between Philippine and Japanese firms in the areas of manufacturing, shipbuilding, iron and steel, agribusiness, power, renewable energy, transportation, infrastructure, mineral processing, retailing, information and communication technology, and business process management. DOF