US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo leads high-level mission to Manila – a first

The visit is part of US commitments under the 123 Agreement that allows the transfer of information, nuclear material, equipment, and components directly between the two states.


Secretary Raimondo will be joined by 21 American business leaders and senior corporate executives. PHOTO: UNSPLASH

March 11, 2024

MANILA – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s visit to Washington in May last year has yielded one major tangible result—the US government is sending over for the first time a Presidential Trade and Investment Mission to the Philippines.

US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo is leading the high-level mission to Manila from March 11 to March 12 and will be joined by 21 American business leaders and senior corporate executives as well as celebrity and philanthropist Allan Pineda, popularly known as Black Eyed Peas rapper and founder of Foundation International.

The White House list of official delegates includes Steven Brown, president of geothermal energy company GreenFire Energy Inc.; Sapna Chadha, vice president for Southeast Asia and South Asia frontier of tech giant Google Asia-Pacific;

Narsingh Chaudhary, president for Asia-Pacific and India of global engineering company Black & Veatch Corp.; Chris Clark, chair for Asia-Pacific of payment tech multinational Visa Inc.;

Mark Ein, chair of the President’s Export Council; Charlie Ergen, cofounder and chair of the board of EchoStar/DISH, a global provider of satellite communication technologies;

Kimberly Getgen, founder and CEO of tech consulting company InnovationForce; Brett Hart, president of top American airline United Airlines;

Laura Lane, executive vice president and chief corporate affairs and sustainability officer of multinational shipping and supply chain company United Parcel Service; Rich Lesser, global chair of Boston Consulting Group which provides management consulting and business strategy services;

David Luboff, partner and head for Asia-Pacific infrastructure and cohead of KKR Asia-Pacific of global investment company KKR; Thomas Marquis, cofounder and vice president and director for marketing of Marquis which produces and markets low-carbon feed and fuel solutions;

Scott McHugo, CEO and chair of the board of solar energy solutions company Sol-Go; Sara Murphy, president of Capital One Philippines bank;

Ted Osius, president and CEO of the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Business Council; Anne-Marie Padgett, regional president for East Asia and Pacific of engineering and project management company Bechtel;

Kawal Preet, president for the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa regions of global delivery services company FedEx; Shamina Singh, founder and president of Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and executive vice president for sustainability of global payments technology company Mastercard; Mary Snapp, vice president for Global Strategic Initiatives of the Office of the President of top computer software multinational Microsoft Corp.;

Eric Starr, cofounder and CEO of data security company UltraPass ID; and Francesco Venneri, founder and CEO of energy company Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp.

First of a kind mission

White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said earlier this year that the visit was part of US commitments under the 123 Agreement that US President Joe Biden signed with President Marcos in November last year.

The 123 Agreement allows the transfer of information, nuclear material, equipment and components directly between the two states to enhance US companies’ contributions to the Philippine economy, connective infrastructure, clean energy transition, critical minerals sector and food security, Watson said.

Mr. Marcos said the US President himself had assembled the delegation upon the Philippines’ request to explore opportunities for investment and operations in the country.

The United States had not sent a presidential trade delegation before, Mr. Marcos noted.

The US-Asean Business Council said the first of a kind mission aims to “enhance US companies’ contributions to the Philippines’ digital transformation and clean energy transitions as well as highlight the Philippines as a key hub for regional supply chains and high-quality investment.”

It said the delegates will meet with Philippine government officials to discuss “business development incentives and regulatory reforms” and with Philippine business executives and business organizations to foster business-to-business trade and investment opportunities.

“This trade and investment mission underscores the commitment of the United States to building strong partnerships with one of its key allies, the Philippines. I am confident that this mission will create new partnership possibilities for the US private sector,” Osius said in a statement.

Currently with more than 170 companies as members, the US-Asean Business Council has been the lead advocacy organization for US corporations operating within Asean.

‘Interest is so high’

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said earlier the country was witnessing an uptick in investment interest under the Marcos administration, which has embraced closer economic and defense ties with the United States.

“I cannot overemphasize the fact that our relationship with the United States is at its best right now. This is the time we have to take advantage of this relationship because the interest is so high,” Romualdez said during a recent briefing organized by nonprofit US-Philippines Society.

READ: DTI: ‘High-level’ US trade delegation to arrive in PH next week

“Secretary Raimondo told us she wanted this to be very focused, she wanted to make sure something will come out of this delegation,” he recounted.

“This is a big deal for the United States. The White House has never organized something like this,” Romualdez said

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