The United States will help the Philippines with regard to food security and achieving a digital economy, as US Vice President Kamala Harris launches initiatives to this end, the US Embassy said Monday.
Food security and sustainable agriculture
According to the US Embassy, the US Department of Agriculture, along with participation from USAID and the US Department of State, will establish a food security dialogue with Philippine counterparts.
“This dialogue," the embassy said, will enable the two nations “to collaborate to create resilient food systems and discuss best practices for agricultural innovation and sustainability.”
Moreover, US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) will issue a $20 million loan to enable Agri Exim Global Philippines, Inc., a local processor of organic coconuts into derivative products, to grow its facilities.
“[The initiative aims] to grow its processing facilities in the Philippines, helping thousands of local farmers get organic certification and connect to global supply chains and customers,” the embassy said.
The US will also intend to partner with Philippine telecom operator Now Telecom for the deployment of 5G technologies in the Philippines, the US Embassy said.
The partnership will provide “faster and more reliable digital services and increased broadband internet access” for Filipinos countrywide, it added.
Meanwhile, USAID, in partnership with SpaceX Starlink in the country, will support the launch of the first Low Earth Orbit Satellite Broadband Service in Southeast Asia.
The satellite broadband service will provide reliable and affordable internet access to marginalized populations throughout the Philippines, thereby improving access to education, professional training, and opportunity, the embassy said.
Moreover, USAID will also launch a new five-year project dubbed “Strengthening Private Enterprises for the Digital Economy (SPEED) award.”
SPEED seeks to expand the participation of Philippine small and medium enterprises in the country’s emerging e-commerce ecosystem.
The Philippine eCommerce Alliance will also be introduced as part of the SPEED launch, signaling an industry-wide commitment to accelerating the rise of the Philippine digital economy.
“This program will promote the use of digital technologies to accelerate competitiveness, drive innovation, fuel job opportunities, and enhance the market reach of enterprises,” the embassy said.
Furthermore, USAID also plans to support the new Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development Alliance.
“Leveraging $5.3 million in private sector contributions from seven Philippine companies, this public-private partnership will work with government, industry, and academia to create a highly skilled and adaptive workforce that meets the evolving requirements of the high-tech manufacturing sector,” the Embassy said.
On women entrepreneurs, the embassy said DFC will provide a $15.5 million loan guarantee through a framework agreement with Citibank to support ASA Philippines Foundation, a microfinance institution helping women entrepreneurs access capital and contribute to economic growth in the Philippines.
Harris, who arrived in Manila on Sunday night after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation economic leaders meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, is scheduled to meet President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte on Monday.
She will also travel to Palawan, one of the areas in the country closest to the West Philippine Sea.
"The United States and the Philippines enjoy an alliance and partnership based on deep historical, economic, and cultural ties, and our shared democratic values. The United States and the Philippines stand together as friends, partners, and allies. Now and always, the US commitment to the defense of the Philippines is ironclad, and we are committed to strengthening our economic and investment relationship," the US Embassy said.
Harris' visit to the Philippines "reaffirms the bilateral alliance and will spur cooperation on a range of issues, including: advancing clean energy, addressing the climate crisis, promoting inclusive growth and innovation, increasing access to quality education and health resources, combating trafficking in persons, facing common security challenges, supporting freedom of the seas, and deepening people-to-people ties," it added.
The Philippines and the US will also discuss the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and the UN Joint Programme for Human Rights (UNJP) during Harris' visit, the US Embassy said. —Mel Matthew Doctor/KG, GMA Integrated News