US business delegation to visit PH in June: Obama

Posted at 04/28/2014 6:28 PM | Updated as of 04/28/2014 6:28 PM

MANILA – US President Barack Obama announced on Monday that a delegation of business leaders from the US will be visiting the Philippines in June this year “to explore new opportunities.”

Obama, who arrived in Manila Monday for his first state visit in the Philippines, said the delegates will be led by US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

Obama and President Benigno Aquino signed a new defense agreement and discussed other economic issues concerning the US and the Philippines.

“We have agreed to keep deepening our economic cooperation. I congratulated President Aquino on the reforms that he pursued to make the Philippines more competitive, to our partnership four growth and our millennium challenge cooperation compact. We will continue working together to support these efforts so that more Filipinos can share in this nation’s economic progress because growth has to be broad-based and inclusive,” Obama said in a joint press conference after the bilateral talks.

“I encouraged the President to seize the opportunity he’s created by helping the next phase of economic reform and growth,” he added.

He also said there were discussions on steps that the Philippines can take to position itself for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a pact envisioned to connect Asia-Pacific economies by eliminating trade barriers and harmonizing regulations.

The countries discussing the TPP include United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The Philippines is looking to join the TPP.

Aquino, meanwhile, described the TPP in his speech as a “high standard trade arrangement that will shape the global and regional economic architecture in the 21st century.”

“The Philippines is working to ascertain how participation in TPP can be realized,” he said.

Aquino also expressed appreciation for the US support to Philippine government’s programs under the Partnership for Growth framework, which enhances the policy environment for economic growth through $145 million total planned contribution from the US Agency for International Development.

The President also lauded the recent Category 1 status upgrade by the US Federal Aviation Administration, saying it will boost both tourism and business.

“This will redound to mutual benefit for our countries—from opening more routes for travel between the United States and the Philippines, to creating more business opportunities, to facilitating increased tourism and business travel,” he said.