The United Kingdom said the Philippine government can tap a 4.5-billion-pound export-import facility to help fund the Duterte administration’s unprecedented public investment program.
The Finance Department said in a statement the UK made the offer during a meeting between UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
Fox told Dominguez that the Philippines could look into the UK’s export-import facility to explore financing options for its massive infrastructure program.
“We hope that you can tap this rather under-tapped resource,” Fox was quoted as saying.
Dominguez said he welcomed Fox’s offer. He said while the Philippine government was tapping foreign funding sources, it also planned to implement a comprehensive tax reform program to generate revenues internally for its infrastructure buildup.
The finance chief said that as a result of President Duterte’s foreign policy rebalancing, the Philippines was able to further strengthen its bilateral ties with Asia’s economic powerhouses such as Japan and China, which both pledged a combined $9 billion in official development assistance and investments.
Dominguez informed Fox that the government planned to develop a second international airport, build high-speed trains between Manila and Clark in Pampanga and possibly connect it to a commuter rail system in the south, along with improving Luzon’s ports to help decongest Metro Manila and encourage investments in the countryside.
For regions highly dependent on agriculture, the government will improve existing and build new irrigation systems to boost farm productivity, Dominguez said.
Dominguez said President Duterte’s rebalancing of foreign policy proved timely, given that the Philippines would be hosting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations during the group’s 50th founding anniversary this year.
He also cited the Philippines’ strong economy complemented by a low-interest rate regime, excess liquidity in the market, a well-received bonds issue and young, trainable workforce as among the key factors that would help realize the Duterte administration’s sustainable and inclusive growth agenda.
Fox said the UK was “keen on establishing its footprint” in the Philippines’ services sector and in exporting its education technologies.
The two officials also discussed expanding trade and investments and expanding British exports to the world via UK’s new online trade portal.
The meeting was also attended by British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad; Mike Moon, the director for trade and investment of the British Embassy; Aaron Chan (British Embassy’s head of inward investment) and other UK Embassy officials.
Philippine exports to the UK in 2016 reached $476 million, while imports from the UK amounted to $480 million.