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Japan to give ¥600 billion for Philippines' drive for upper-middle income-status

TOKYO— Japan will give the Philippines 600 billion yen in government aid and private sector investments to support the country’s drive to become an upper-middle income economy in 2024, Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said.

At the documents exchange ceremony with Philippine and Japanese officials at the Prime Minister's Office on Thursday, Kishida said the Philippines' economic development opens "big economic opportunities" to both countries.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Kishida had discussions on bilateral cooperation on economy, security and defense, and people-to-people exchange. A deepening of cooperation was also "strongly affirmed."

"To support the Economic Development Plan of the Philippines to become an upper-middle-income country and conveyed that by March 2024, public-private assistance of 600 billion yen will be provided," Kishida said.

"As a part of it, exchange of notes just took place on rail development," he added.

Under the World Bank’s updated standards, an upper middle-income economy or country has a gross national income (GNI) per capita of between $4,046 and $12,535.

In 2019, the Philippines was categorized as a lower-middle income country with a GNI per capita of between $1,006 and $3,955.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed the country’s GNI per capita stood at P182,438 (about $3,300) in 2021, higher than the peak of the pandemic year 2020 of P177,546 (about $3,200) but still lower than the pre-pandemic GNI per capita of P200,135 (about $3,600) in 2019.

The Philippines and Japan signed seven agreements on mutual cooperation in the areas of humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, infrastructure, agriculture, and digital cooperation.

The agreements include the following:

  • Exchange of Notes on Japanese Official Development Project: North-South Commuter Railway Extension (NSCR) Project;
  • Exchange of Notes on Japanese Official Development Project: NSCR - Malolos to Tutuban Project ;
  • Loan Agreement for the NSCR Extension Project;
  • Loan Agreement for the NSCR - Malolos to Tutuban Project;
  • Umbrella Term of Reference (TOR) on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Cooperation;
  • memorandum of cooperation (MOC) between the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on Agriculture Cooperation; and
  • an MOC in the Field of Information and Communications Technology.

Marcos is in Tokyo for a working visit.

“The Prime Minister and I have agreed to cooperate even more closely in areas of economic cooperation, security and defense cooperation, maritime security and safety, healthcare mechanisms, environmental commitments, and people-to-people exchanges,” Marcos said in his remarks during the ceremony.

“Furthermore, there are cultural cooperation, regional peace initiatives, and nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, amongst others,” he added.

“The future of our relationship remains full of promise, as we continue to deepen and expand our engagements across a wide range of mutually beneficial cooperation,” Marcos said.

In his first State of the Nation Address in July last year, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said his administration is looking to bring the Philippines to "upper-middle income status by 2024" with "at least $4,256 income per capita."

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan has said that achieving the target would be delayed a year later than expected “due to the sharp contraction of the economy in 2020 and the sharp depreciation of the peso.” 

Marcos has said that the goal would be attained “very soon.” —NB, GMA Integrated News