At the White House, President Biden and President Marcos advanced an ambitious agenda for the U.S.-Philippines alliance and celebrated the tremendous momentum now animating bilateral efforts to advance prosperity, security, and friendship among our peoples.
Today President Joe Biden welcomes Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to the White House. This follows President Biden’s September 2022 meeting with President Marcos in New York, and Vice President Kamala Harris’s visit to the Philippines in November 2022.
President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ ironclad commitment to the defense of the Philippines, and the leaders discussed efforts to strengthen the longstanding U.S.-Philippines alliance. The leaders reviewed opportunities to deepen economic cooperation and promote inclusive prosperity, expand our nations’ special people-to-people ties, invest in the clean energy transition and address the climate crisis, and ensure respect for human rights. The leaders discussed regional matters and coordinate on efforts to uphold international law and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.
President Biden and President Marcos announced a number of new arrangements and initiatives to expand on the historic momentum in U.S.-Philippine relations, including the adoption of Bilateral Defense Guidelines, President Biden’s dispatching of a Presidential Trade and Investment Mission to the Philippines, the launch of an Open RAN 5G interoperability lab in Manila, and the establishment of a bilateral Labor Working Group.
THE U.S.-PHILIPPINES ALLIANCE
The Philippines is the United States’ oldest ally in the Indo-Pacific. Since 1951, the U.S.-Philippines alliance has advanced peace, prosperity, and security for the United States, the Philippines, and the broader Indo-Pacific region. Now the United States and the Philippines are modernizing the alliance and building a strong and resilient architecture that is designed to meet emerging challenges, while routinizing joint planning and improving interoperability. On April 28, we concluded the largest-ever iteration of our flagship bilateral military exercise, Balikatan. We are also expanding cooperation among our coast guards to better address the challenges posed by illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and other unlawful maritime activities; when Vice President Harris visited Palawan in November 2022, she announced $7.5 million in new assistance to enhance the capabilities of Philippine maritime law enforcement agencies, as well as a new program to upgrade the Philippine Coast Guard’s vessel traffic management system.
Furthermore, the Philippines and the United States have identified four new sites pursuant to the U.S.-Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which will strengthen Philippine security and support the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization goals, while driving U.S. investment to local communities across the Philippines and improving our shared ability to rapidly deliver humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
At the White House, President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ ironclad alliance commitments to the Philippines, underscoring that an armed attack in the Pacific, which includes the South China Sea, on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft, including those of the Coast Guard, would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty. President Biden and President Marcos announced the following arrangements and initiatives:
- Bilateral Defense Guidelines: The United States and the Philippines are adopting Bilateral Defense Guidelines that institutionalize key bilateral priorities, mechanisms, and processes to deepen alliance cooperation and interoperability across land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. The Guidelines support the continued modernization of the alliance and ongoing efforts to adapt alliance coordination to respond to the evolving security environment. As outlined in the Guidelines, the United States and the Philippines will advance efforts to deepen interoperability, particularly through enhanced bilateral planning; information-sharing; accelerated defense capability development; and collaboration on emerging security challenges.
- Enhancing the Capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines: The United States intends to transfer to the Armed Forces of the Philippines two Island-class patrol vessels, two Protector-class patrol vessels, and three C-130H aircraft, pending applicable Congressional notification requirements. Additionally, two Cyclone-class coastal patrol vessels were transferred to the Philippines in late April, and are now en route to Manila. These transfers will support the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization program by enhancing its maritime and tactical lift capabilities.
- EDCA Sites Driving Sustainable Development and Investment in Local Communities: The United States is working closely with communities in the vicinity of the EDCA sites to fully realize their positive value for local development and for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. To that end, the United States will expand our work in these communities and areas to support health, education, environmental protection, economic growth, and disaster preparedness.
ECONOMIC COOPERATION: PROMOTING INVESTMENT, INNOVATION, AND INCLUSIVE PROSPERITY
The close economic ties between the United States and the Philippines have long supported high-quality investment, good jobs, and sustained economic growth in both countries. All regions of the Philippines benefit from U.S. investment, and employees of U.S. companies in the Philippines earn annual wages that are 50% above the average family’s income. U.S. business services company Concentrix is the Philippines’ largest private sector employer, while U.S. investment firm KKR invested $1 billion in Philippine telecom infrastructure in 2022 alone and U.S. technology companies such as Texas Instruments, onsemi, Amkor, and Analog Devices have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the Philippines’ semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem.
The Philippines and the United States are also partnering with other regional countries to negotiate an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), which will promote trade, supply chain resilience, clean economy development, and anti-corruption and tax efforts. The countries are also collaborating closely at meetings throughout the U.S. 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) host year. To add further momentum to our special economic ties, President Biden and President Marcos announced the following new initiatives:
- Presidential Trade and Investment Mission: President Biden intends to dispatch a Presidential Trade and Investment Mission to the Philippines on his behalf – the first mission of its kind – to enhance U.S. companies’ investment in the Philippines’ innovation economy, its clean energy transition and critical minerals sector, and the food security of its people. The Presidential Trade and Investment Mission will feature the highest caliber of U.S. business leaders.
- Bringing the Indo-Pacific Business Forum to the Philippines: The United States and the Philippines will co-host the 6th annual Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF) in Manila, pending Congressional notification. The IPBF, sponsored by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), is the United States’ marquee annual commercial event in the region, convening the highest level of public and private sector leaders to review policy developments, announce new investments, and identify new commercial partnerships. Expected to take place in spring of 2024, the Forum will strengthen the Philippines’ position as a key hub for regional supply chains and high-quality investment.
- Open RAN 5G Interoperability Lab: To advance a secure 5G rollout in the Philippines, strengthen its innovation economy, and provide digital upskilling opportunities to Philippine workers, the United States intends to establish a brick-and-mortar Open RAN Interoperability Lab in Manila, pending Congressional notification. The Lab will provide hands-on training to current and aspiring 5G professionals and provide an opportunity for vendors and operators deploying Open RAN worldwide to teach and educate local engineers in how to design, build, and operate these open, secure, and interoperable networks.
- Investing in Sustainable, High-Quality Infrastructure: The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is launching a new partnership to scale up infrastructure development in the Philippines and support the construction of high-quality railways, ports, and transport systems. Additionally, over the course of 2023, USTDA will launch new sustainable infrastructure activities intended to leverage over $3 billion in public and private financing to strengthen the Philippines’ critical mineral supply chains, advance smart grid technologies and clean energy solutions, promote secure 5G deployment, strengthen airport security and maritime safety, and support healthcare infrastructure across the Philippines.
- Expanding U.S.-Philippines Air Transportation Links: The United States and the Philippines intend to expand air connectivity and modernize our bilateral aviation relationship, which will strengthen our economic and people-to-people ties. U.S. and Philippine aeronautical authorities will formalize a technical aviation dialogue at the upcoming APEC Transportation Ministerial Meeting in Detroit to enhance policy and regulatory alignment, with a view towards modernizing the U.S.-Philippines air transportation agreement.
- Space Cooperation: The United States and the Philippines will strengthen bilateral cooperation on space situational awareness and the use of space for maritime domain awareness, including through the first-ever U.S.-Philippines Civil Space Dialogue. The countries will collaborate on the use of space-based technology in the areas of disaster management and emergency response, healthcare, mapping of resources and accessibility, pollution monitoring, deforestation, land use and infrastructure planning, and maritime awareness. The leaders welcome the strengthening of bilateral cooperation on the Landsat Program, including the possibility for the Philippines to download imagery directly from Landsat satellites to its ground stations.
EDUCATION AND PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE TIES
The United States and the Philippines benefit from unique bonds of friendship and community among our peoples, and millions of Filipino Americans enrich communities across the United States. The United States’ only overseas VA Service Center is located in Manila, where it fulfills our special obligations to the many Filipinos who served under the U.S. flag. The Philippines is also home to the longest continuously running Fulbright Program – now celebrating its 75th anniversary. We will mark this special milestone by expanding U.S.-Philippine exchange programs and strengthening alumni networks among the thousands of Filipinos who have benefited from these programs. Additionally, President Biden and President Marcos announced the following new initiatives:
- Investing in the Next Generation of Philippine Leaders: The U.S. government is on track to provide $70 million to support more than 2,000 exchange participants between the Philippines and the United States over the next ten years. This investment will allow for an expansion of the Fulbright program, the International Visitor Leadership Program, the Philippines Youth Leadership Program, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, the Humphrey program, and other bilateral exchange initiatives with the Philippines. This represents one of the U.S. government’s largest long-term people-to-people commitments globally.
- Philippines-U.S. Friendship Fellowship: The United States and the Philippines welcome plans to establish a Philippines-U.S. Friendship Fellowship (PUFF), which is designed to provide Philippine students and young professionals with unique educational opportunities in the United States, building life-long ties among the next generation of Philippine and American innovators and leaders.
- Building World-Class Universities in the Philippines: USAID will launch a $30 million next-generation higher education partnership to strengthen the Philippine education system, working with Philippine universities to expand their innovation, entrepreneurship, and workforce development capabilities, pending availability of funds. This flagship education partnership will advance Philippine human capital priorities by supporting universities’ curriculum development, faculty training, higher education policy and management, research, and community engagement.
- Fulbright Advancing Innovation and Capacity-Building: Noting the importance of collaboration among our scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs, the United States supports the partnerships the Fulbright Commission has established with the Philippine Commission on Higher Education, Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, Competition Commission, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and Space Agency; and commits to explore avenues for harnessing these partnerships to achieve capacity-building in areas critical to the Philippines’ national development and economic growth.
ADVANCING RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
The United States and the Philippines’ shared democratic values strengthen our alliance immeasurably. Promoting respect for human rights and rule of law, and ensuring civil society leaders and members of marginalized communities are safe from violence, are key priorities for the U.S.-Philippines relationship. The United States looks forward to contributing to the Philippines-UN Joint Programme for Human Rights, a unique mechanism intended to strengthen Philippine accountability mechanisms. The United States and the Philippines are also focused on ensuring workers can organize freely and safely. The United States appreciates President Marcos’s participation in the second Summit for Democracy and looks forward to launching a U.S.-Philippines Democracy Dialogue this year. Today, President Biden and President Marcos announced:
- Establishment of a U.S.-Philippines Labor Working Group: The United States and the Philippines will establish a bilateral Labor Working Group, pursuant to the U.S.-Philippines Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. The Labor Working Group will serve as an important platform through which the United States and the Philippines can collaborate to accelerate implementation of internationally recognized labor rights. It will also facilitate exchange and dialogue among U.S. and Philippine governments and labor unions, ensuring that workers’ voices will shape the way ahead.
COLLABORATION ON CLEAN ENERGY & ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
The United States and the Philippines are deepening collaboration to fight climate change, expand clean energy production, and protect the environment. We will endeavor to keep energy prices down for families while urgently reducing greenhouse gas emissions by expanding wind, solar, and geothermal energy production in the Philippines, including through our Energy Policy Dialogue. We are expeditiously negotiating a civil nuclear cooperation agreement (or “123” Agreement), which will provide a legal foundation for significant transfers of nuclear material and equipment, while concurrently enhancing capacity-building and commercial cooperation in nuclear energy. Furthermore, the United States and the Philippines have adopted a “ridge-to-reef” model of environmental protection, collaborating to promote sustainable fisheries and marine conservation, combat the illegal lumber and wildlife trade, advance ecosystem-based adaptation, rehabilitate valuable wetlands, and promote good governance in the mining sector. Today, President Biden and President Marcos announced the following new initiatives:
- Partnership on Critical Minerals: USAID will invest an additional $5 million, pending Congressional notification, to support increased production of processed minerals and expand downstream mineral industries in the Philippines, such as the production of electric vehicle components and information and communications technologies (ICT) equipment, while improving governance standards in the mining industry. In addition, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) intend to partner on the identification and classification of mineral commodity resources, and capacity-building on minerals governance. Finally, the Department of State will establish technical cooperation with the Philippines to develop the country’s nickel and copper resources in a manner that promotes sustained economic growth and social benefit. This builds on USTDA’s ongoing work to support the development of environmentally sustainable nickel processing facilities in the Philippines.
- Green Energy Auctions: USAID will partner with the Philippine Department of Energy to conduct the Philippines’ second round of green energy auctions – bidding out a combined 11.6GW of solar, onshore wind, biomass and waste-to-energy capacity to be installed from 2024 to 2026, representing nearly half the country’s current energy capacity.
- Partnership on Nuclear Energy: As the United States and the Philippines continue to develop a civil nuclear cooperation agreement, the United States will provide capacity-building support through the Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) program, which will help the Philippines develop a national civil nuclear engineering workforce. The United States will also arrange a study tour this summer for Philippine legislators and government officials to explore the potential for nuclear energy to meet the Philippines’ clean energy needs, consistent with the highest standards of nuclear security, safety, and nonproliferation.
- Environmental Protection: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and DENR have committed to work jointly to address the serious health and environmental risks associated with climate change and environmental degradation. This partnership will apply best practices and cutting-edge technologies to address challenges like methane reduction, food waste, marine plastic litter, water quality, and environmental justice. In addition, the Department of Interior intends to partner with DENR to protect shorelines and ecosystems through “ridge-to-reef” conservation and research efforts.
SUPPORTING RESILIENT AND HEALTHY COMMUNITIES
The United States and the Philippines are close partners in promoting health security and supporting inclusive community resilience. In FY 2022 funding alone, USAID expects to provide over $135 million in development assistance to support these efforts, subject to Congressional approval. We are proud to have provided the Philippines more than $52 million in COVID-19 assistance, in addition to donating 33 million safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in partnership with COVAX, building on the United States’ $600 million investment in the Philippine health sector over the past twenty years.
USAID has responded to over 50 disasters in the Philippines since 1990, providing life-saving emergency assistance while building up the Philippines’ domestic response capacity. Since 2010, the United States has provided over $363 million in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery assistance–excluding COVID-19 assistance–to help over 100 cities and municipalities across the Philippines. The United States is also supporting Philippine efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to emerging infectious disease threats through technical assistance and investments that strengthen the capacity of laboratories, improve disease surveillance and emergency management systems, and establish robust risk communication and biosafety and biosecurity measures.
Today, President Biden and President Marcos announced the following new initiatives:
- Advancing Food Security: On May 5, the United States and the Philippines will convene their inaugural Food Security Dialogue, a high-level platform led by the U.S. and Philippine Departments of Agriculture, mandated to coordinate enhanced bilateral efforts to create resilient food systems and advance agricultural trade, innovation, and sustainability. The Department of Commerce intends to dispatch its first-ever trade mission on agricultural technology to the Philippines in September 2023, with stops in Manila and Davao City. In addition, the U.S. National Science Foundation will support joint research on food security with U.S. and Philippine experts at the International Rice Institute in Los Baños.
- Advancing Water Security: USAID assistance will mobilize $100 million over the next five years to increase access to safe drinking water for 1.22 million Filipinos and provide sanitation services to 710,000 people, while strengthening water management institutions, increasing access to climate-resilient water supply, improving water resource management, and addressing water financing gaps.
- Protecting Critical Water Infrastructure: The United States and the Philippines will partner to strengthen the security and resilience of Philippine water infrastructure, supply, and distribution systems. We plan to share best practices and tools, and conduct expert exchanges on ways to prevent, detect, and address physical and cyber incidents. We will also provide cybersecurity training for government personnel and undertake other capacity building efforts.
- Disaster Risk Reduction: USAID is providing an additional $5.3 million for disaster risk reduction and resilience programming in the Philippines, building national and local capacity to prepare for and respond to disasters, while addressing the long-term needs of at-risk communities. In addition, the United States and the Philippines, building upon long-standing cooperation in the field of science, technology, and innovation (STI), will co-host an international workshop on “Harnessing STI for Disaster Risk Reduction” in Metro Manila this year, in partnership with the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development.
- Promoting Health Security and Fighting Tuberculosis: USAID will award an additional $8 million, pending Congressional notification, to support global health security in the Philippines and invest in the Philippines’ biosafety and laboratory capacity, disease surveillance, risk communication, and emergency preparedness. In addition, USAID will partner with the Philippine Department of Health to address the double burden of non-communicable diseases and tuberculosis. This partnership will ensure all Filipinos have access to quality treatment. USAID will also expand support to the Philippines National Tuberculosis Reference Lab, introducing the use the Targeted Next-Generation Sequencing technology to address drug-resistant strains.