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24 June 2015

WASHINGTON, DC - Philippine Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio L. Singson urged US construction companies to “locate their businesses in the Philippines, get registered in the Philippines, and take advantage of Filipino engineers” in order for them to be competitive in the ASEAN region.

Secretary Singson advanced this business proposition today at the CSIS Conference, “Dynamic Philippine Economy: Growth, Reform and Looking Ahead,” which was the first stop for the Philippine High-Level Trade and Investment Mission that is traveling across the United States from 24 to 29 June.

“The Philippines offers a lot of construction opportunities,” the Secretary said, underscoring how infrastructure development is essential to the improvement of other sectors, such as tourism, agriculture, water and transportation. The designation of these “strategic convergence areas” demonstrates the coordinated efforts of different government agencies to attain sustainable, resilient and inclusive economic growth.

Secretary Singson also announced the creation of a new license category called Quadruple A or “AAAA” that allows foreign firms to be registered as regular contractors and does away with the old requirement of a per-project basis construction permit.

He likewise expressed confidence in the sustainability of the reforms within the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which used to be tagged as one of the most inefficient and corrupt institutions in the Philippine Government. DPWH’s good governance reforms and anti-corruption programs have saved Filipino taxpayers Php 48 billion in 2014.

Ms. Cosette V. Canilao, Executive Director of the Private-Public Partnership Center (PPP), discussed the opportunities and policy guidelines involved in facilitating investment collaboration between private companies and the public sector.

The invitation for more foreign investment in infrastructure is a running theme in the Mission’s push in the United States.  Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, who co-leads the Philippine delegation with Secretary Singson and Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, earlier stated, "Drawing high-quality investments in key areas of opportunity like infrastructure is a win-win for both the Philippines and foreign investors. This is a fundamental component of our strategy as we build better infrastructure to support the growing mobility and connectivity needs of a booming population."

In his opening remarks, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. drove home the point that infrastructure investments will be vital. “We aim to attain a level of infrastructure spending of 5% of GDP by 2016. We are also pursuing infrastructure development in the Philippines through public-private partnerships program [PPP]. In line with this, the Philippines and the US recently signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) on infrastructure collaboration,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

"Dynamic Philippine Economy: Growth, Reform, and Looking Ahead" was co-organized by the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., the US-Philippines Society and the Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS).

The Philippine High-Level Trade and Investment Mission will be heading to make its pitch in New York from 25 to 26 June and to San Francisco on 29 June.

The Mission is an important follow-up to the Philippines-United States Memorandum of Cooperation on an Infrastructure Collaboration Platform, which was signed during the 8th Global Infrastructure Leadership Forum (GILF) held in New York in February.

The Conferences are being organized in cooperation with the Philippine Consulates General in New York and San Francisco, as well as Citibank, Deutsche Bank, Development Bank of the Philippines, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JP Morgan, Land Bank of the Philippines, Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered, and UBS.###