THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the country will sign at least 10 business-to-business deals during the Philippine delegation’s visit to Japan in late May accompanying President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez told reporters on Thursday at Malacañang that the DTI has so far received two memoranda of understanding and eight letters of intent from major Japanese firms intending to expand their local operations.

“These are big Japanese companies that we cannot ignore. They want to express their support and confidence in the current administrations and they want to indicate their intent to invest more,” Mr. Lopez said.

The deals are in the electronics, manufacturing, data analytics, artificial intelligence, services, energy, transportation, and tourism sectors, he said.

The Departments of Energy and Transportation are also expected to sign agreements, he said.

Mr. Lopez said the DTI is still finalizing its list of Japanese proposals and cannot come up with an estimate of their monetary value. The signings will take place at the roundtable meeting and business forum it will hold when Mr. Duterte and his delegation meet with Japanese investors.

He said only that he expects to be the deals signed to be “substantial.”

The DTI is still open to receiving letters of intent and business deal proposals from Japanese companies until the end of this week.

Mr. Duterte is set to visit Japan from May 29 to 31 on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s invitation, his which will be his third visit since 2016.

The visit coincides with the ongoing general review of the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership agreement, with Manila seeking easier entry for its agricultural products into Japan.

“We can expect hopefully improved market access of Philippine products going to Japan,” Mr. Lopez added.

According to DTI data, two-way trade volume between the Philippines and Japan was $20.02 billion in 2018, with exports at $9.47 billion and imports at $10.5 billion.

Last year, Japan was the Philippines’ “second major trading partner (out of 221), third export market (out of 211), and third import supplier (out of 198),” the DTI added. — Janina C. Lim