PH, Japan discuss key accomplishments of infra development and economic cooperation

Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno led the Philippine delegation during the 14th Philippines-Japan High-Level Joint Committee Meeting on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation with Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Japan Dr. Mori Masafumi on August 28, 2023 at the Meiji Kinenkan in Tokyo, Japan.

“Through the years, the Philippines and Japan have enjoyed deep bilateral ties, strengthened by the Japanese Government’s steadfast commitment and continued support to the Philippines’ development agenda,” he said during his opening remarks.

The meeting allowed both countries to review the key accomplishments of its bilateral cooperation after the 13th Philippines-Japan High-Level Joint Committee Meeting in Manila last November 4, 2022.

Achievements in infrastructure development, regional development, agriculture, information and communications technology (ICT), energy and environment, maritime safety, disaster risk management, development in Mindanao, as well as the facilitation of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) opportunities between the Philippines and Japan were discussed during the meeting.

Following the High-Level Meeting, Secretary Diokno and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Senior Vice President Nakazawa Keiichiro signed the loan agreement of the Post Disaster Stand-by Loan (PDSL) Phase 3, a JPY 30-B loan that seeks to support swift recovery after natural disasters by promoting policy actions on DRRM and strengthening disaster preparedness by providing quick-disbursing budget support.

Japan is the country’s largest Official Development Assistance (ODA) provider of loan and grant commitments, amounting to around US$ 12.92 billion, or about 40.5 percent of the country’s total ODA portfolio.

JICA is currently supporting the implementation of twenty-eight (28) ongoing loans with the Philippine Government.

Secretary Diokno said that the Philippines will continue to secure concessional terms and conditions through JICA’s Special Terms for Economic Partnership (STEP), which increases the visibility of Japanese ODA in recipient countries through best use of advanced technologies and know-how of Japanese firms.

Secretary Diokno then thanked the Japanese Government for financing key railway projects amounting to about JPY 394.4 billion.

Among these are the North-South Commuter Railway Project (NSCR), NSCR Extension Project, and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 Rehabilitation Project.

The meeting also allowed the Japanese Government to gather insights in terms of determining the assistance needs of the Philippines in pursuit of Upper Middle-Income Country (UMIC) status.

“We are grateful for Prime Minister Kishida’s commitment to support the Philippines’ pursuit of the upper middle-income country status through impactful ODA and private-sector investments,” Secretary Diokno said.

Both countries then discussed available financing options once the Philippines enters UMIC status by 2025. These include new frameworks such as the “private capital mobilization-type” grant that attracts investment and the “offer-type” that proposes a menu of cooperation that takes advantage of Japan’s strengths.

As a sign of confidence, the Government of Japan renewed its commitment to the development cooperation with the Philippines, building on the strong economic, political, and cultural ties throughout the years.

“We hope that Japan will continue to be a strong partner through various forms of bilateral and technical cooperation for many years to come,” Secretary Diokno said.

Prior to the meeting, the Philippine delegation paid a courtesy visit to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the Office of the Prime Minister to affirm the two countries’ strong bilateral ties.

The delegation consisted of agency heads and officials from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), as well as Philippine Ambassador to Japan, Her Excellency Mylene J. Garcia-Albano.