Led by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Gregory L. Domingo, the DTI will welcome U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker together with top U.S. business executives to explore new business opportunities between the Philippines and the U.S. after the recent visit of U.S. President Barack Obama to Manila. “The visit of this high-level business delegation led by Secretary Pritzker and composed of major US companies shows their renewed and keen interest to do business in the Philippines,” DTI-Trade and Investments Promotion Undersecretary Ponciano C. Manalo, Jr. said. Pritzker arrived on June 2. She will meet with the President and her Philippine counterpart, Domingo, to discuss the economic relations and prospects between the two countries. “This visit is likewise a recognition that Philippine government reforms are well established in the long run, and expected to translate into actual improved business conditions and attractive trade and investment opportunities,” Manalo said. The visiting US executives, who are also members of the influential US-ASEAN Business Council, represent an excellent cross-section of the American mainstream commerce, including energy, information technology and business process management (IT-BPM), manufacturing, consumer goods, mining, investments and financial services. The US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Business council is the premier advocacy organization for U.S. corporations operating within the ASEAN, a regional grouping important to the US, considering its 650M-strong population and combined USD 2.2-T economy. Manalo noted that this visit and an earlier visit of U.S. business executives in the Asia Pacific region cap a flurry of exchanges between the business community of both countries, and is seen to continue as a trend for the coming years. Early this year, the American executives in the Asia Pacific region convened for the first time in Philippines for their 2014 Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) Spring Summit to discuss investment matters and explore business opportunities in the country. In parallel undertaking, the Philippine Embassy and Consulates to the U.S. together with the Philippine Trade and Investment Centers (PTICs) in the U.S. recently collaborated with top Philippine business executives on a series of investment roadshows covering three major U.S. Cities, namely Houston, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. This series of roadshows in the US is now on its third year, and had been staged in major U.S. capitals like New York, Washington, DC and San Francisco. In the latter half of June this year, Domingo and Manalo are scheduled to embark on a series of trade and investment promotion visits to several U.S. cities. “Our planned visit to U.S. sites will provide an excellent opportunity to immediately follow through on the interest generated by the visit of the U.S. business delegation to Manila and the investment roadshows in the U.S. as well as to engage U.S. businesses bring new investments and expand operations in the Philippines,“ Domingo said. “The business interest that will be created by these undertakings will be a welcome addition to our current business leads and prospects, which the DTI, the Board of Investment (BOI) and our commercial offices in the USA have been persistently working on,” Manalo said. Last year, the Philippines received 27 inbound business delegations and missions from the U.S. alone. For the first quarter of 2014, the country already received 11 serious business and investment missions. In 2013, Investment Promotion Agencies (IPA) approved investments from the U.S. stood at USD 1.3B. In the same year, U.S. was the Philippines’ second major trading partner, second biggest export market, and second import supplier. According to the recent data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), total merchandise trade in 2013 reached USD 15.3B, with total export receipts stood at USD 8.3B and total imports USD 7B. For the first quarter of 2014, total trade stood at USD 3.5B, with total exports at USD 1.9B and total imports at USD 1.58B. Manalo also noted that upgrade the Philippines got from international credit-rating firm Standard & Poor’s by a notch to investment grade is expected to further boost investor confidence of the visiting U.S. companies and the other foreign companies who will follow them and closely consider the Philippines as a business destination in the ASEAN region.