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Arroyo flying home with $2B in trade from India

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo left India Saturday en route home to the Philippines, where she is expected to arrive at 9:30 p.m. with $2 billion worth of trade and investment agreements with India. A Malacañang statement said Mrs Arroyo's biggest "investment" from India is the $1.6-billion investment of Ispat Industries Ltd. for the establishment of the first large steel mill to be put up in Mindanao. Ispat Industries, owner of Global Steel Philippines, is the country's biggest producer and exporter of various steel products after acquiring the Iligan steel mill of the National Steel Corp. for $225 million in 2004. Global Steel now joins the "billion-dollar club" of investors that include Texas Instruments and AES Corporation of the US, Hanjin Corporation of Korea and Marubeni Corporation of Japan. Other million-dollar investments from India's ICT and BPO companies include Sutherland Global Services, Hinduja Corporation and WNS Corporation. The three have committed to set up call centers and training facilities in Manila, Camarines Sur, Iloilo, Davao and other provinces in the country. Mrs Arroyo also announced several new investments on energy from Indian companies like Praj Industries, which will set up a multi-million dollar bio-ethanol plant in the Philippines and Kalpataru Power Transmission, which would participate in the bidding for the privatization of the National Power Corporation’s transmission grid in December. In the health and medicine sector, five agreements worth some $170 million were signed between Indian and Filipino private companies, which would assure the continuous supply of low-cost medicines into the Philippines. These include the MOA signed between the Philippine International Trading Corporation and the State Trading Corporation of India for $35 million worth of medicines that would be sold in Botika ng Barangay outlets throughout the Philippines under the President's half-priced medicines initiative. On the diplomatic front, nine bilateral agreements were signed between the Philippines and India following Mrs Arroyo's meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pratibha Patil. In meetings with Indian businessmen, Mrs Arroyo secured a commitment from top Indian film producer Aditya Raj Kapoor to produce a movie in the Philippines next year to pave the way for more collaboration between Filipino and Indian filmmakers. She also secured an investment commitment from Taj Resorts and Hotels to consider Central Philippines tourism beltway as possible site for its next multimillion-dollar hotel and tourism project. Other investment commitments included a $50-million credit line from the Export and Import Bank of India for the financing of supply of gems and jewelry polishing equipment from India to the Philippines; A memorandum of agreement between the Philippines and India for the establishment of an Indian business process outsourcing (BPO) company named Credence Analytics with the Philippines' IPVG Corp; RP-India Joint Declaration for cooperation to combat international terrorism and agreement on the establishment of a joint commission on bilateral cooperation. The Philippines and India also signed memorandum of agreement on the exemption of visa requirements for holders of diplomatic and official passport; memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the Foreign Service Institute of the Philippines and the Foreign Service institute of India. Mrs Arroyo and her official delegation toured the world-famous Taj Mahal Saturday morning and had photo opportunities in the world heritage site before departing back for Manila. On the other hand, Mrs Arroyo said poverty alleviation would be her administration's primary goal during the next three years ending in 2010. She said increased government earnings or revenue either through raising the effective collection of taxes or sale of government assets is necessary component of poverty alleviation. Mrs Arroyo said social services, like making cheap medicines available, improved health care and anti-hunger campaign, are also important components of the poverty reduction program. She said she would not mind if her successor in the presidency at the expiration of her term in June 2010 would not give credit to her for all the good things she has done to move the Philippines on a path to permanent economic growth. - GMANews.TV