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9 January 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Philippines would like to seek duty-free access into the United States of certain products produced from areas hit by Typhoon Haiyan last year as part of the government’s efforts to spur the recovery and rehabilitation of the affected communities.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. announced the plan in his remarks at a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on the role of the United States government and military, the private sector and non-government organizations in responding to the devastation.

“Similar to what the United States did following the Haiti earthquake, the Philippines is looking at possible trade preference for products from Haiyan-affected areas,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

He said the Philippines is looking at arrangements that will allow duty-free access for a limited period of time for a limited number of products coming from the affected areas, mostly in the Central Visayas.

In his presentation, Ambassador Cuisia again expressed his appreciation to the US Government and the American people for the generous assistance extended to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

The typhoon, one of strongest in recorded history, killed as 6,183 people dead, affected 2.6 million families and displaced 930,000 others. Another 28,626 people were injured and 1,785 people remain missing. It also left more than $12.9 million in damages.

According to the ambassador, the total US assistance package from the US government alone is estimated at around $85 million and covered food aid, shelter materials, clean water, and hygiene education and supplies for affected families as well as protection for vulnerable populations.

This amount includes the $25 million in additional aid announced by Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to Tacloban in December. The US Chamber of Commerce Typhoon Haiyan Corporate Aid Tracker has also reported over $51.8 million of business pledges to support recovery efforts as of December 5.

“There is much work to be done, and in the spirit of the alliance and partnership we have shared, we continue to count on your invaluable assistance,” Ambassador Cuisia said, adding that at least $8.2 billion is needed for the Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda Plan that the Philippine government unveiled last month.

He said the Philippines will continue to need assistance in the long-term recovery and rehabilitation of 171 municipalities in four regions of the country that have been identified as priority areas for assistance.

According to the ambassador, the priority needs that have been identified include shelter, food, debris removal, water systems and access to sanitation facilities. Other priorities include livelihood, public health services, education and national protection capacity.

“At this point, it is apparent that recovery and rehabilitation will not be easy, and there are very real and substantive challenges ahead,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

“In this light, we continue to call on our friends in the international community to support this effort,” Ambassador Cuisia said, adding that the Philippines would need the assistance of experts on technical grants; standards; climate change resiliency; and disaster risk reduction.

The forum entitled "US Response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines" was hosted by CSIS and Abbott, and moderated by Murray Hiebert, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow and Ernest Bower, Senior Adviser at the Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asian Studies of CSIS.

Panelists from the US government were, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Scot Marciel of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Department of State; Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia Gregory Beck, US Agency for International Development; and Brig. Gen. Joaquin F. Malavet, Principal Director of Asia and Pacific, Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense at the Department of Defense.

Panelists from the private sector were Marc DeCourcey, Executive Director of the Business Civil Leadership Center of the US Chamber of Commerce; Thomas Tighe, Chief Executive Officer of Direct Relief; Kate Irvin, Group Director for Diplomatic Relations of the Coca-Cola Company; Chris Palusky, Senior Director of Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs of World Vision; Suki McClatchey from Abbott; and Evangeline Ganuelas, Executive Director of Feed the Hungry, Inc.###

9 January 2014

Duty-free access for products from Yolanda areas. Ambassador Cuisia addressed attendees of the forum on US Response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines hosted by CSIS. He talked talked about how duty-free access of products from Yolanda-affected areas can help boost livelihood and the economy in areas trying to get back on their feet.  (Philippine Embassy Photo by Majalya Fernando)

9 January 2014

Philippines, post-Haiyan. Ambassador Cuisia answering questions from the audience about steps the Philippine Government is taking to rebuild Haiyan-affected areas. The forum was moderated by Mr. Murray Hiebert, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow, Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asia Studies of CSIS.  (Philippine Embassy Photo by Majalya Fernando)