MANILA – US Ambassador Sung Y. Kim traveledto Davao on March 27. While in Davao, the Ambassador had a friendly,productive meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte. They discussed the extensive bilateral partnership over the years as well as cooperation on counterterrorism, child protection, piracy, and economic development in Mindanao. The Ambassador highlighted US-Philippine partnerships in the region that strengthen the local economy and promote peace and stability.
Ambassador Kim also gave remarks at a luncheon meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce Mindanao, conveying the US government’s wholehearted support of the vibrant US-Philippine economic relationship, and emphasizing the Embassy’s commitment to development in Mindanao. Honoring Women’s HistoryMonth, Ambassador Kim highlighted the Embassy’s US Agency for International Development funding of a project training women to weave nets that stop erosion and landslides along the roadways in Ramon Magsaysay, Zamboanga del Sur.
Overall, the US government has pledged more than P3.5 billion fordozens of projects in Mindanao over the next few years, including the Roll-on,Roll-off, or RO-RO, nautical highway. On April 30, the route will connect the cities of Davao and General Santos to Bitung in the Sulawesi Island of Indonesia. This accomplishment will help US and Philippine businesses operating in Mindanao increase their exports at great savings.
The Ambassador also shared a few concrete examples of the close business ties between US companies and Mindanao. Demand from US clients generates an estimated 40,000well-paying BPO jobs in Mindanao. Cargill, a US agricultural corporation,exports P7.5 billion worth of coconut oil every year, much of which comes from Mindanao, supporting tens of thousands of Mindanao farmers. Together with its partners GIZ and BASF, Cargill has trained more than 1,000 coconut farmers since 2011 on improving agricultural practices. As a result, 300 small farmers from the region have been certified to produce the world’s first Rainforest Alliance certified copra, raising their incomes by 15 percent.