President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. shakes hands with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida after a joint press conference in Tokyo, Feb. 9, 2023. — COURTESY OF PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE

THE PHILIPPINES has secured a $600-million investment pledge for its infrastructure projects from Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) Chairman Manny V. Pangilinan and Japan’s Mitsui & Co., according to Malacañang.

“We signed an agreement with Mitsui and several parties and management to commit to invest $600 million in infrastructure,” Mr. Pangilinan was quoted as saying in a statement released by the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) on Sunday.

Mr. Pangilinan made the remarks during a Feb. 8 dinner with President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. that was hosted by MPIC and Mitsui executives in Tokyo, Japan.

News reports last month indicated Mitsui was interested in buying a stake of up to 20% in MPIC, whose interests include toll roads, power, hospitals and water. At that time, MPIC clarified that no final decision has been made.

Mitsui had committed to investing in the Philippines’ agriculture, infrastructure, renewable energy, and digital transformation, which are among the Marcos government’s priority areas, the Palace said.

“We can point to so many of the developments that happened in the Philippines with the assistance of the different Japanese funding agencies and government-to-government arrangements, the commercial arrangements — and these have been to the benefit of both our countries,” Mr. Marcos said at the meeting.

He also vowed to boost ties with Japanese companies including Mitsui as they have been “dormant to a degree” during the pandemic.

“It is a particularly auspicious time that we come again now simply because we have to now restart our own economies, we have to transform our economies,” he said.

During Mr. Marcos’ visit, the Philippines signed 35 letters of intent with Japanese companies engaged in manufacturing, infrastructure development, energy, transportation, healthcare, renewable energy and business expansion.

Some of the deals are “ready to go,” Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said in a separate PCO release on Sunday.

“Some are already registered with the Board of Investments (BoI),” he said.

Trade Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo said they are tracking $10 billion worth of investments from Mr. Marcos’ five-day official visit to Japan.

“That would be about P500 billion or P550 billion (worth of investments),” Mr. Rodolfo said at a media forum on Saturday.

He noted the BoI has already recorded P414 billion worth of registered investment as of Feb. 9, almost half of its P1-trillion investment target this year. The BoI may also revise its full-year target due to the surge in investments, he added.

“We have already reached P414 billion (registered investments). That means that our target of P1 trillion, we have already hit more than 40% of that,” Mr. Rodolfo said in mixed English and Filipino.

The registered investments as of Feb. 9 is also nearly 60% of the P729-billion investments approved by the BoI in 2022.

The surge in investments was recorded as information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) companies transferred their registration to the BoI from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), which allowed them to implement work-from-home arrangements and enjoy fiscal incentives. The registration transfer ended on Jan. 31, with around 50% of over 1,000 IT-BPM locators transferring their registration to the BoI.

“We really credit a big part of that to the strong efforts of the President to promote the Philippines… Those visits really created a pipeline of strong interest from investors such that these investments are the ones that actually registered with the BoI, not the ones that have just signed a letter of intent,” Mr. Rodolfo said.

Since he assumed office in July 2022, Mr. Marcos has visited Indonesia, Singapore, United States, Cambodia, Thailand, Belgium, China, Switzerland, and Japan.

Mr. Rodolfo said more investments are also entering the Philippines due to the country’s “welcoming attitude” towards foreign direct investments (FDIs).

“The President has ordered an Executive Order (EO) on green lane so that all projects that are generated, including those generated through presidential visits, will be provided a green lane treatment when they enter the Philippines,” Mr. Rodolfo said.

Terry L. Ridon, a public investment analyst, said Mr. Marcos’ Japan trip was more productive than his visit to Davos, Switzerland last month for the World Economic Forum “and probably all his previous trips combined.”

“Japan has been a long-standing bilateral partner, and the trip cements Tokyo’s continuing commitment to funding the country’s development, such as building the North South Commuter Railway and other high-impact projects,” he said via Messenger chat.

Investment pledges from Japanese semiconductor and electronics companies are among the most significant commitments secured by the Philippines from Japan’s private sector, Mr. Ridon said.

The Palace earlier said pledges from the Japanese electronics companies could amount to billions and could generate more than 10,000 jobs for Filipinos.

Commitments secured by the Philippines from Japanese firms also covered the sectors of energy, healthcare, logistics and warehousing, and education, among others.

MPIC is one of three key Philippine units of First Pacific, the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza