By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

JUST ARRIVED. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (left) and party land at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Japan on Friday night (Dec. 15, 2023). He will participate in the 50th Commemorative ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation Summit. (Photo courtesy of PCO)

MANILA – At least five business deals and memoranda of understanding (MOU) are set to be signed during President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s official visit to Japan, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said on Saturday.

In a media interview in Tokyo, Pascual said the business agreements will be signed on Dec. 18.

“It’s an expression of interest to invest in the Philippines, expressions of Japanese companies to invest in the Philippines. Some are MOU between Philippine company and Japanese company,” Pascual said, as quoted in a news release by the Presidential Communications Office.

Pascual did not elaborate yet on the details of the agreements.

He said the investment commitments from Japanese businesses signify Japan’s confidence in the Philippines and “serious intent and serious plans to proceed to the investment.”

“It has support of the present policy of the administration in the sense that we are inviting foreign investors to come into the country and these Japanese investments are most welcome,” Pascual said.

“They are among the largest investors in the Philippines already among all the nationalities that have operations in the country,” he added.

Marcos flew to Japan on Friday for the 50th Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Japan Friendship and Cooperation Commemorative Summit.

Japan is one of the Philippines’ three strategic partners with 264 bilateral agreements, including transfer of defense equipment and technology, infrastructure and Mindanao development.

Japan is the country’s second largest trading partner in 2022 with a total trade of USD23.49 billion, which is up by 10.9 percent from the USD21.83 billion recorded in 2021.

It is also the largest source of Official Development Assistance, with a share of 40.49 percent or USD12,923.99 million of the country’s total portfolio.

Japan is likewise the second largest source of grant assistance, accounting for 28.93 percent or USD577.72 million of the total grants’ portfolio. (PNA)