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8 January 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Manila’s relations with Washington are at their highest based on how the two allies worked together during the past year, according to the Philippine ambassador to the United States.

“Our relations with the United States have never been better,” Ambassador Cuisia said in his remarks during a reception he hosted on Wednesday night for Washington-based journalists led by National Press Club President Myron Belkind.

Ambassador Cuisia said the main highlight of a stronger Philippine-US alliance was the visit to Manila in April of President Barack Obama and the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

The other highlights of Philippine-US relations in 2014 were the restoration of the country’s Category I aviation safety rating; its removal from the Special 301 Watch List of countries with intellectual property rights issues; and the favorable outcome of the review on trade benefits under the General Scheme of Preferences.

“As a result of the FAA aviation safety upgrade, Philippine Airlines will now be flying from Manila to New York starting in March,” Ambassador Cuisia said. “This positive development benefits both our countries as it creates more opportunities for trade and tourism.”

Ambassador Cuisia also cited the proposed regulations that would expand allowable sources of Philippine mangoes for importation into the US as well as Washington’s support for Manila’s request for a continued rice waiver at the World Trade Organization.

In terms of economic cooperation and development assistance, Ambassador Cuisia mentioned the estimated $139 million that the US committed under the Partnership for Growth program and $434 million under the Philippine Compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

The continued positive momentum being experienced by the Philippine economy was among the top achievements of the Philippines in 2014 that Ambassador Cuisia also shared with Washington journalists.

“We are the sick man of Asia no more,” Ambassador Cuisia said, as he pointed to the expected 6 percent expansion in the country’s gross domestic product in 2014 as well as its growing competitiveness.

He said the country’s competitiveness is evidenced by improvements in its standings in the 2014 Ease of Doing Business Assessment; the Index of Economic Freedom; and the World Economic Forum Competitiveness index. In its 2014 Asia Business Outlook Survey, the American Chamber of Commerce said the Philippines has one of the most improved business climates, ahead of many Asian peers.

He added that for the first time in its history, the Philippines achieved investment grade status from all three credit ratings agencies—Standard & Poor, Moody’s and Fitch.

“This speaks a lot about the depth of institutionalization of good governance and overall political stability of the Philippines under the leadership of President Benigno S. Aquino III,” Ambassador Cuisia said. ###