US-ASEAN Business Council supports Philippines economic response and recovery during COVID-19

On 1-10 September 2020, the Council led a delegation of 25 companies in a virtual business mission to the Philippines and engaged key Philippine government officials on key interests and priorities. US-ABC Chairman, President & CEO Alexander Feldman highlighted that the delegation’s size and multisectoral composition highlight the continued importance of the Philippines as a market for U.S. companies despite COVID-19 challenges. “We believe the Philippines’ strong macroeconomic fundamentals will bolster the country’s efforts to address COVID-19 health challenges and safely reopen more economic activities,” said Mr. Feldman.

The meetings with key Philippine government officials revolved around mission themes of supporting a strong response and recovery against COVID-19, accelerating digital transformation, and reinforcing U.S.-Philippines bilateral ties for regional peace and prosperity. The Council is committed to the Philippines and would like to see more engagement and cooperation with all industry sectors, especially the Health and Life Sciences sector, which could make a significant difference in strengthening national and local government capacity in battling the pandemic.

The mission was co-led by Jannik Termansen of 3M, the Council’s Philippines Committee co-chair, who reaffirmed its commitment to the country. “3M, having been in the Philippines for 56 years, is proud to be part of the country’s growth and development. We remain committed to supporting the public health and government response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – and collaborating with government, local businesses, communities, and humanitarian aid organizations to accelerate economic recovery. As a global technology and innovation company operating across multiple industries, we stand ready to assist the process towards the ‘new normal’ through capacity building, training, knowledge and best-practice sharing as well as offering innovative solutions, as economies open up and company operations restart in most industries,” said Jannik Termansen, 3M Director and regional head of Government Affairs & Markets in Asia Pacific.

During the virtual meeting with the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Council signed an MOU with DA on Partnerships for Agricultural Cooperation in a virtual signing ceremony. “We are delighted to sign this MOU during the mission and we greatly value Secretary Dar’s leadership and forward-thinking approach to engaging the U.S. private sector. This MOU will provide an enabling framework for the Council and our member companies to ramp up cooperation and collaboration on Philippines agriculture activities in a cohesive and mutually reinforcing way that addresses the needs and priorities of the Philippine government. We hope this MOU will be a platform to address regulatory issues, and channel more American investment into the agriculture sector,” stated Ambassador Michael Michalak (ret)., US-ABC Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director who witnessed the virtual signing.

The mission delegation held virtual meetings with key Cabinet officials and ranking members of Congress, including:

• Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin (DFA)
• Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (DND)
• Agriculture Secretary William Dar (DA)
• Science & Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña (DOST)
• Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor Francisco Dakila Jr. (BSP)
• Labor and Employment Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez (DOLE)
• Environment Undersecretary Analiza Teh (DENR)
• Interior & Local Government Undersecretary Epimaco Densing (DILG)
• National Privacy Commissioner & Chairman Liboro (NPC)
The mission delegation also had joint virtual meetings with the following officials:

Build Build Build BBB or Cabinet Infrastructure Cluster
• Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III (DOF)
• Public Works & Highways Secretary Mark Villar (DPWH)
• Transport Secretary Arturo Tugade (DoTr)
• Economic Planning Secretary Karl Chua (NEDA)
• Bases Conversion President Vince Dizon (BCDA)
• Finance Undersecretary Antonette Tiongko (DOF)
• Economic Development Authority Deputy Director General Rose Edillon (NEDA)
• Budget Management Assistant Secretary Rolando U. Toledo (DBM)

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA)
• Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez
• Undersecretary Perry Rodolfo
• Undersecretary Aldaba
• Undersecretary Blesie
• PEZA Director General Charito Plaza
Senate of the Philippines
• Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel Jr.
Former Senate President
Chair, Foreign Relations
Chair, Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship
• Senator Pia Cayetano
Chair, Committee on Ways and Means
Chair, Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation and Futures Thinking
• Senator Cynthia Villar
Chair, Committee on Agriculture and Food
Chair, Committee on Agrarian Reform
Chair, Committee on Environment and Natural Resources
• Senator Grace Poe
Chair, Committee on Public Services
Chair, Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies
• Senator Sherwin Gatchalian
Chair, Committee on Energy
Chair, Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture

House of Representatives
• House Majority Floor Leader Martin Romualdez
• Representative Joey Salceda, House Committee Chair on Ways and Means
• Representative Sharon Garin, House Committee Chair on Economic Affairs

The delegation also called on Ambassador Sung Kim, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines and Ambassador Jason Chung, U.S. Director to the Asian Development Bank.

US-ABC members companies who joined the Council’s 2020 Virtual Philippines Business Mission were 3M, Citi, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, PMI, Bell, Cargill, Cisco Systems, FedEx Express, Jhpiego, KKR, MSD, Netflix, Novartis, Oracle, PepsiCo, UPS, Visa, Dell, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Medtronic, Salesforce, SAS, and Texas Instruments.

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For over 35 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership, more than 160 companies, generate over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people globally. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.