By Arjay L. Balinbin

THE PHILIPPINES has inked nine investment agreements with Indian corporations, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said on Thursday, Jan. 25, amid the start of the India-ASEAN Summit 2018 attended by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“We had a series of meetings with big conglomerates in India, especially those with special interest in operating in the Philippines. Those with intention either to expand or to enter the Philippines,” Mr. Lopez told reporters in a televised press briefing in New Delhi.

According to the trade secretary, the Philippines has received seven letters of intent (LoIs) and entered into two memorandums of agreement (MoUs). “So, basically, there are about nine agreements on how we can expand and strengthen our trade and investment relationship,” he said.

He also said by text, when sought for comment, that the LoIs will give us “$1.25 billion worth of investments and 10,000 jobs….”

One MoU, between the Board of Investments of the Republic of the Philippines and Invest India, aims to facilitate direct investment by providing practical investment information to enterprises of both countries and assisting visiting investors.

There is also a business-to-business agreement between National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) of India and the IT & Business Processing Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), which intends to promote development and growth of the IT BPM industry in the Philippines.

The Philippine government also has an LoI with India’s Adani Green Energy Limited. Other Indian firms that have submitted their LoIs include Interglobe Air Transport for the promotion of the Philippine tourism; Interglobe Technologies for the expansion of its digital delivery services to the Philippines; KG Information Systems Private Limited for IT consulting and services delivery; The Farm at San Benito (Narra Wellness Resorts, Inc.) for the expansion of its operations in the Philippines, particularly in Davao and Palawan; and Hinduja Global Solutions which seeks to expand its operations with two to four additional sites.

For his part, Presidential Spokesperson Herminio Harry L. Roque, Jr. reported that during their bilateral meeting on the eve of the ASEAN-India summit, President Rodrigo R. Duterte and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to give further momentum to cooperation between the two countries.

“The two leaders agreed on expanding bilateral ties on all fronts. This includes business as well as security and even military cooperation,” Mr. Roque said.

He also said Mr. Duterte had called for further cooperation in the pharmaceutical industry as well as the business outsourcing industry.

On the political side, “the Philippine President described India as a superpower that has a moderating effect in international relations, and he also emphasized the commonality between the Philippines and India, noting both countries’…independent foreign policy,” Mr. Roque said.

Mr. Roque added that the President explained his war on drugs, to which Mr. Modi “responded very positively,…saying the threat of drugs to young people is very serious,” Mr. Roque echoed.

Moreover, according to the spokesman, Mr. Duterte emphasized that ASEAN, in addition to being an economic body, must also cooperate militarily in combating terrorism in the region.

The two leaders agreed further on bilateral negotiations involving trade and military cooperation, Mr. Roque said.