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06 March 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C.- The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and Virginia Port Authority (VPA) established an Alliance of Cooperation on 05 March 2016 in a ceremony held at the Virginia International Gateway Terminal in Portsmouth, Virginia.

The Alliance was established by a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Roberto V. Garcia, SBMA Chairman and Administrator; and John F. Reinhart, VPA CEO and Executive Director.

The MOU will provide a framework for information sharing aimed at generating new business by promoting the all-water route between the Subic Bay Freeport and The Port of Virginia. The Alliance will also explore joint marketing efforts; share non-confidential data that may be useful for developing the bilateral relationship of the ports; exchange information resulting from market studies that may be mutually relevant; look at the possibility of developing joint- or cross-training seminars; and transfer technical or technological capabilities.

Chairman Garcia underscored the MOU’s importance to deepening the Philippines-US economic relationship.

“This MOU is landmark and pioneering. It provides an opportunity for Subic Bay Freeport and the Port of Virginia to learn from each other with a view to cooperating on areas of mutual interest and concern in pursuit of economic development. The choice of Subic Bay Freeport also reaffirms the long-standing historical ties and friendship between the Philippines and the United States,” Chairman Garcia said.

Russel J. Held, Vice President for Economic Development of the Virginia Port Authority, expressed optimism that the MOU will allow the two ports to share best practices with each other, and positively impact on jobs creation, tax space, and the economic well-being of the communities outside the gates of the two ports.

“Learning from each other is what the agreement is all about,” said Mr. Held.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by Benjamin Antonio III and Wilfredo Pineda, Members of the SBMA Board of Directors; Marcelino Sanqui, SBMA Senior Deputy Administrator for Operations; Ronnie Yambao, SBMA Deputy Administrator for Business and Investments; Warren Harris, Executive Director of the Virginia Beach Economic Development Office; Scott Hall, Deputy Executive Director; and Ms. Naomi Estaris, COO/VP of Sister Cities Association of Virginia Beach.

In a statement, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. also welcomed the signing of the MOU.

“This Alliance clearly reaffirms the dynamic and robust Philippine-US economic partnership. It is our hope that this Alliance of Cooperation between SBMA and VPA can deepen and strengthen not only the relationship of the Subic Bay Freeport and the Port of Virginia, but also trade and investment between the Philippines and the United States,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

At a meeting organized by the Virginia Beach Economic Development Office after the signing ceremony, Chairman Garcia and his delegation also met with Delegate Ron Villanueva, a Filipino-American member of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia, who is the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation.

The Philippine delegation and Delegate Villanueva had a wide-ranging discussion on issues relating to transportation, shipping, port operations, and opportunities for investments in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. At the same meeting, the delegation also fielded questions from the heads of a number of Virginia SMEs who are seriously interested in investing in the construction, real estate, and manufacturing sectors.

The SBMA is the Philippine agency that administers and manages the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, including the Subic Bay Freeport. The Port of Subic Bay is strategically located along major shipping routes in the South China Sea, which makes it an ideal transshipment point to and from the trans-Pacific, Japan, Korea, China, and the rest of Southeast Asia. It has a natural deep navigational channel with berthing facilities, and is easily accessible by land to and from Metro Manila as well as North and Central Luzon.

The VPA administers the Port of Virginia, which comprises six general cargo terminals. It is also strategic with deep shipping channels, zero air-draft restrictions, located in the US Mid-Atlantic with access to two-thirds of the US population within a day’s drive or two-day double-stack rail to/from the Midwest, quick access to the open sea and friendly labor relations.

The initial idea for such an Alliance was developed during a visit by a Virginia Beach delegation to SBMA. Olongapo City and Virginia Beach are sister cities. ###

06 March 2016

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Roberto V. Garcia and VPA President for Economic Development Russel J. Held exchanged copies of the Memorandum of Understanding establishing an Alliance of Cooperation between SBMA and VPA on 05 March 2016 at the Virginia International Gateway Terminal in Portsmouth, VA, USA.

06 March 2016

SBMA Chairman Roberto V. Garcia (2nd from right) exchanges views with Delegate Ron Villanueva, Chairman of the Transportation Committee of the Virginia House of Delegates (leftmost). At right is SBMA Director Benjamin Antonio III.