U.S., PHL launch key projects at Indo-Pacific Business Forum

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

In a push for economic collaboration and infrastructure development, the United States and the Philippines co-hosted the sixth Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF) on May 21, 2024.

The event, held in Manila, marked the largest in-person gathering of senior officials and business executives since the pandemic, drawing over 700 participants from across the region.

Key initiatives aimed at enhancing the Philippines’ infrastructure and economic landscape were unveiled.

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) awarded a grant to Responsible Internet Sustainability Effort, Inc. (RISE) for a feasibility study to improve internet service delivery through the expansion of carrier-neutral internet exchange infrastructure. The effort is expected to significantly bolster internet quality and resilience, particularly in underserved communities.

Additionally, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) announced a $20 million loan agreement with Lhoopa, Inc., a Philippine real estate investment company, to support affordable housing projects. This brings DFC’s total commitments in the Philippines to $80 million, reflecting a robust engagement in addressing housing needs.

Highlighting the clean energy sector, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) introduced a new industry working group focused on civil nuclear power projects, particularly Small Modular Reactor (SMR) technologies. The group aims to foster collaboration among approximately 40 U.S. companies to advance nuclear energy initiatives in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines.

The Philippine American Educational Foundation (PAEF) also plans to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Philippine Department of Energy to promote workforce development in the civil nuclear industry through scholarships and academic exchanges.

Further cementing the U.S. commitment to regional economic growth, the DFC revealed plans to open a regional office in the Philippines. This new office will facilitate further investments, especially in priority sectors like infrastructure, critical minerals, and renewable energy.

“The diversity of U.S. leadership at the 2024 IPBF is a reflection of the importance the United States places on this event,” said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in recorded remarks. “Our commitment to a free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific continues with our efforts to expand economic engagement with the region.”

The forum also saw the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Network, designed to connect SME organizations across the 14 IPEF partner countries, promoting regional trade and investment and enhancing economic competitiveness.

The event underscored the broader themes of clean energy, digital transformation, supply chain resiliency, transportation infrastructure, and emerging technologies. Keynote speakers included Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and USTDA Director Enoh T. Ebong, among others.

As the Indo-Pacific region continues to emerge as a focal point for global economic growth, the initiatives launched at the IPBF signal a strengthened partnership between the United States and the Philippines, with far-reaching implications for sustainable and inclusive development across the region.

For more information on the 2024 Indo-Pacific Business Forum, visit [Indo-Pacific Business Forum](https://indopacificbusinessforum.com/).