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08 April 2016

MAKATI CITY, PHILIPPINES — “Sustained economic growth and economic prosperity are underpinned by political stability,” was how Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. contextualized the comprehensive approach of the Philippines and the United States toward their 70-year old bilateral relations, in his address to the General Membership of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AMCHAM Philippines) on Friday, 08 April 2016 at The Manila Peninsula.

“Our American friends, from President Barack Obama to Cabinet Secretaries, such as Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who by the way will be here towards the end of the week, and to the officials with whom we deal regularly, have often spoken about their Government’s “ironclad” commitment to its alliance with the Philippines. In return, we endeavor to demonstrate, in words and in deed, that the Philippines is and will continue to be a responsible and reliable ally of the American people,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

The envoy briefed the Chamber’s membership on developments in Philippines-US relations, which received significant boost from the 2nd Round of Ministerial Dialogue in January; the special ASEAN-US summit in Sunnylands and President Benigno S. Aquino III’s working visit to Los Angeles in February; and the 6th Bilateral Strategic Dialogue held last month.

Ambassador Cuisia highlighted the business and investment roadshows conducted in 2015 and the first three months of 2016 as part of the Philippine Embassy’s economic diplomacy push in the United States.

“For 2015 and the first half of 2016, the central theme of our economic diplomacy in the United States has been the economic transformation of the Philippines, which is due largely to the good governance program implemented by President Aquino and the economic reforms undertaken by his Administration,” he said.

“The narrative of Philippine economic growth is not only about the exceptional economic performance of the country, but also about how inclusive growth became the north star of Philippine national economic policy,” the Ambassador further stated.

He underscored the interlocking relationship between regional economic development and political stability, and slammed China’s actions in the South China Sea for causing anxiety among the countries in the region. He emphasized the importance of the ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal in settling the maritime disputes in a peaceful and lawful manner.

“I encourage AMCHAM to articulate, in no uncertain terms, that the business community will not tolerate the current situation in the South China Sea dictated by China. The narrative that the decision of the Arbitral Tribunal must be binding on all parties must be stronger than other narratives, which are self-serving and have no basis in international law. In sum, a militarized and tension-gripped South China Sea where the rule of the cannon prevails is not good for business,” Ambassador Cuisia stressed.

The Ambassador, who initiated the Filipino-American Youth Leadership Program and other youth-oriented projects in the United States, also cited the need to support socio-cultural programs in further strengthening bilateral relations.

“Recognizing the vital role of people-to-people ties in deepening diplomatic relations, the Philippine and US Governments have recently pledged to do more in terms of enriching cultural and educational exchanges, starting with trying to increase the number of Filipino students pursuing higher education in the United States,” Ambassador Cuisia told the audience, including the 32 participating students in AMCHAM’s annual Business Leadership Program.

The Ambassador likewise took the opportunity to acknowledge the “great work” of US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg in strengthening the alliance, and to pay tribute to former Secretary of Foreign Affairs for the latter’s “principled leadership, unwavering dedication, and indefatigable energy, which resulted in a Department of Foreign Affairs anchored on a foreign policy that embraces the total protection of the national interest”.

He concluded his speech with an invitation to join the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Philippines-US relations this year.

“The past seven decades have seen our two nations become treaty allies, strategic partners and close friends. It is my fervent hope that the next seventy years would prove to be even more fruitful as the next generations of Filipinos and Americans march in step towards the realization of their shared aspirations,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

The members of AMCHAM Philippines described the Ambassador’s speech as “informative” and “insightful”.

“I think I speak for a lot of folks here to say that we’re privileged to have you here today and the Philippines is privileged to have you as Ambassador to the United States,” said Frank Thiel, AMCHAM Philippines 1st Vice President, to Ambassador Cuisia.

AMCHAM Philippines 3rd Vice President, Ms. Marife Zamora, moderated the Q&A session in which the envoy fielded questions on his priorities as Ambassador, the Philippine and US presidential elections, and his personal leadership principles, among others. ###

08 April 2016

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. briefs AMCHAM General membership on critical developments in PH-US relations on 08 April 2016 at The Manila Peninsula.

08 April 2016

L-R: AMCHAM Philippines 1st Vice President Frank Thiel, US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, Ambassador Cuisia, AMCHAM Philippines 3rd Vice President Marife Zamora, and AMCHAM Philippines Director Donald Felbaum.

08 April 2016

Shown in photo are Ambassador Cuisia, and Ambassador Goldberg with the students participating in AMCHAM Philippines 2016 Annual Business Leadership Program.