PH, Japan meet to review ‘Build, Build, Build’ progress

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    Philippine and Japanese officials will meet in Hakone, Japan tomorrow to discuss the progress of the administration’s big-ticket infrastructure projects that are being implemented with funding support from Tokyo, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

    In a statement yesterday, the DOF said the meeting in Hakone of the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation will be the ninth such dialogue between the two countries.

    Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Economic and Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia will chair the Philippine delegation while Hiroto Izumi, special advisor to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is expected to lead the Japanese side in the meeting set on December 6.

    The first meeting was convened in March 2017 at Kantei, the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo, Japan and the most recent or eighth one was held at the Marriot Hotel in Clark, Pampanga.

    According to Dominguez, the regular meetings between the Philippines and Japan are part of the “fast and sure” approach adopted by the two countries to ensure the smooth and swift implementation of the Japan-funded projects under the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.

    He said a clear demonstration of this approach was the signing of 10 loan agreements between Manila and Tokyo since President Duterte assumed office in June 2016.

    The loan agreements are: Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project for the Philippine Coast Guard (Phase II); Harnessing Agribusiness Opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of Peaceful Transformation; Cavite Industrial Area Flood Risk Management Project; Arterial Road Bypass Project (Phase III) in Bulacan; and the New Bohol Airport Construction and Sustainable Environment Protection Project (II).

    Completing the list are the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 Rehabilitation Project; Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project (Phase IV); North-South Commuter Railway Extension Project (1st tranche of loan); Metro Manila Subway Project (Phase I); and the Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao.

    Japan remains as the top provider of Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans and grants totaling $8.26 billion (46 percent share of the country’s total ODA loan portfolio) as of December 2018.

    It is the Philippines’ second major trading partner in 2018 ($21.1 billion), the country’s second largest export market ($10.3 billion), and third import supplier ($10.82 billion).

    Japan is also the Philippines’ fourth largest source of tourists as over 631,000 Japanese visited the country in 2018, an 8.15 percent growth from 2017.