Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. listens as Virginia Beach Mayor William Sessoms Jr. discuss plans to enter into sister city arrangements with a Philippine city during the Filipino envoy’s visit there on 30 November. Looking on is Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng. (Philippine Embassy Photo by Elmer G. Cato)

VIRGINIA BEACH—The Philippines is urging officials of the Commonwealth of Virginia to send business delegations to Manila and explore trade and investment opportunities in what is touted to be Asia’s new tiger economy.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. made the pitch during his meeting with Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng, State Delegate Ron Villanueva and Virginia Beach Mayor William Sessoms Jr. during a visit here on 30 November 2012.

“The Philippines just recorded a 7.1 per cent growth in its gross domestic product in the third quarter, which is highest in Southeast Asia,” Ambassador Cuisia told the Virginia officials. “The Philippine Stock Exchange is consistently among the top best performing in the world.”

Noting the importance of trade between the Philippines and the various states of the United States, Ambassador Cuisia said Virginia can take its cue from Iowa which is sending a trade delegation to be led by Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds to Manila next year.

“As we go into 2013, the Philippines will give more focus on economic diplomacy and we look towards states like Virginia and fast-recovering cities such as Virginia Beach as partners in our trade and investment promotion efforts,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

The Philippines currently enjoys a favorable balance of trade with Virginia, although it is not among the state’s top 25 trading partners.

As of September 2012, the Philippines exported to Virginia $67.5 million worth of edible preparations of meat, fish and crustaceans; tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes; prepared vegetables, fruit and nuts; and edible fruit and nuts.

On the other hand, the Philippines imported from Virginia $41.3 million worth of goods consisting of meat; food industry residues and prepared animal feed; tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes; and oil seeds and miscellaneous grain, seed, fruit and plants.

Secretary Cheng welcomed the Ambassador’s initiative given the strong economic performance of the Philippines and assured him that they will seriously consider organizing business missions to the Philippines.

For his part, Virginia Beach Mayor Sessoms expressed the city’s desire to have a sister-city arrangement with a Philippine city to bring closer business contacts and match opportunities. Mayor Sessoms also cited the contribution of the Filipino-American community to the city’s growth.

In his first trip to Virginia Beach, Ambassador Cuisia also visited the offices of Virginia Electric Systems, which has a contract with the Philippine Navy to repair patrol vessels and other watercraft. He also visited the headquarters of Stihl Inc., one of the largest manufacturers of chainsaws and blowers in the world, and met with some of its Filipino-American employees. ###