US diplomat to American firms: Invest in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 June) – United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim urged American companies to pour investments in Mindanao to help the island bolster its growth.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim. MindaNews photo by ANTONIO L. COLINA IV

During a press conference at the Seda Abreeza Hotel in Davao City on Tuesday, Kim assured the Philippine government of the US government’s support in the development of Mindanao, most especially the newly established Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Mindanao enjoys continued strong interest from American investors who are not “necessarily deterred by our travel advisory,” according to Kim.

“Sure they may look at the security situation as a factor in considering whether and where to make investments but I encourage our companies to continue to look at Mindanao as a possible destination,” he said.

On BARMM development, the ambassador vowed the US Government will look for ways to support the region “in any way we can.”

“We have already done some interactions with the Bangsamoro people who are involved in the effort, and we’re hopeful that it will bring long-term stability and benefits to the region,” he said.

Kim also mentioned the presence of a chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc. (AMCHAM) in Mindanao. On its website, AMCHAM exists “to serve the interests of Philippine and American businesses through the participation of members in promoting their long-term objectives, while contributing to the civic and economic development of the Philippines.”

The chamber also “regularly consults with Philippine government officials, agencies and bureaus, as well as business, community and civic leaders. For this purpose, it maintains standing Committees, each dealing with relevant issues affecting Philippine business and industries.”

Kim added the US government had a long history of both the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and investment activities in Mindanao. He noted American-owned business process outsourcing companies established in Davao City have also contributed in revenue generation of the government and job creation to young Filipinos.

“I don’t have any announcement with regards to travel advisory. But I should mention for any government our top responsibility is to protect our citizens. It’s the same thing for our colleagues in the Philippine government. So, according to the security situation, we will issue a travel advisory and we will continue to look at the situation and see if any updating is necessary,” he said of the travel advisories issued by the US Embassy in Manila.

Last April 9, the US Embassy in Manila warned its people against travel to Sulu Archipelago, including the southern Sulu Sea, due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping. It likewise advised its people to reconsider travel to other areas of Mindanao for the same reason.

On trade with the Philippines, Kim said the country “enjoys a slight surplus on trade with us.”

“It’s a mutually beneficial economic partnership and has been for many decades,” he said, adding that some US companies – like Coca Cola, Protector and Gamble, GE – have a hundred-year history in the Philippines and continue to do well,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)