Wed. Jun 19th, 2024
2024 Indo-Pacific Business Forum Forges New Collaborations, Spurs Innovation, and Drives Investment

The Governments of the United States and the Philippines co-hosted the sixth Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF) on May 21, 2024, in Manila, the Philippines.  IPBF is the premier U.S. government commercial diplomacy event in the region, connecting CEOs, project developers, government officials, and sources of financing for priority infrastructure in emerging Indo-Pacific economies.  Through keynote remarks, plenary panels, breakout sessions, and business matchmaking, participants shared their insights on the latest trends, opportunities, and solutions to support critical projects across all sectors.

This year boasted the largest in-person IPBF since the onset of the pandemic with over 700 senior government officials and business executives from the United States, the Philippines, and across the Indo-Pacific region convening in Manila.  This is also the first year that the IPBF has returned to Southeast Asia since we co-hosted with Vietnam in 2020.

Our Commitment to Indo-Pacific Economic Recovery and Sustainable and Inclusive Growth

The United States’ vision for a free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific continues with our commitment to expand economic engagement with the region.  The diversity of U.S. leadership at the 2024 IPBF is a reflection of the importance the United States places on this event.  Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave recorded remarks at the Forum and in-person senior U.S. government official participation included:

  • U.S. Trade and Development Agency Director Enoh T. Ebong
  • Senior Advisor to the President for Energy and Investment Amos Hochstein
  • U.S. International Development Finance Corporation Deputy Chief Executive Officer Nisha Biswal
  • Export-Import Bank of the United States First Vice President and Vice Chair Judith D. Pryor
  • Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel J. Kritenbrink
  • U.S. Senior Official for APEC Ambassador Matt Murray
  • Special Coordinator for the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment Helaina Matza
  • Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Sarah Ellerman
  • U.S. Department of Commerce Counselor and Chief Negotiator Sharon Yuan

The key themes of this year’s Forum were clean energy, digital transformation, supply chain resiliency, transportation infrastructure, and emerging technologies, building on Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities under the Indo-Pacific Strategy, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), the Quad, and the U.S. 2023 APEC host year.

Additionally, we are pleased to announce that two priority White House engagements were launched.  Senior Advisor Hochstein, Japanese Deputy General Ishizuki, and Philippine Special Assistant to the President for Investment and Economic Affairs Go followed through on their leaders’ commitment from the first-ever U.S.-Japan-Philippines Trilateral Leaders’ Summit in April co-chairing the first Luzon Economic Corridor steering committee meeting, a demonstration of our commitment to IPEF partners and a key deliverable under the PGI-IPEF Investment Accelerator.

The second being the launch of the IPEF Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Network, which AUSTR Ellerman and Counselor and Chief Negotiator for IPEF Sharon Yuan introduced to IPEF SME stakeholders.  The IPEF SME Network is a new initiative that will connect SME organizations across the 14 IPEF partner countries to promote regional trade and investment, facilitate business-to-business ties, and enhance the economic competitiveness of SMEs in the Indo-Pacific region.

New U.S. and Partner Efforts to Advance an Open, Connected, Prosperous, Secure, and Resilient Indo-Pacific

Participating U.S. and partner country officials, and executives representing businesses operating in the region, highlighted a wide range of signings and deliverables, including:

  • Bangladesh: International Submarine Cable – USTDA awarded a feasibility study grant to Bangladeshi telecommunications company CdNet Communications Limited to expand reliable internet connectivity and quality across Bangladesh through the development of the Bangladesh International Submarine Cable (Bagha-1). This grant was signed at the 2024 Indo-Pacific Business Forum.
  • India: Regional Entrepreneurship Workshop – Embassy New Delhi’s Nexus incubator hub, part of the American Center New Delhi, could host a three-day workshop for young South Asian entrepreneurs as part of the broader Young South Asian Leaders Initiative (YSALI) launching in 2024. Nexus brings the best practices in innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship to Indian startups.  They have partnered with some of the biggest names in the Indian ecosystem to help create a world-class network for Indian startups and entrepreneurs.  This would be the first time we broaden the hub to serve the wider regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  • Malaysia: Sepang District City Integrated Command Center – USTDA announced its approval of grant funding for a feasibility study to the Sepang City Council (MPS) to support the development of a city integrated command center (CICC) for Sepang District, a key economic hub in Malaysia. The CICC will enable Sepang District to leverage a large volume of smart city data to improve city operations, including faster emergency response, reduced traffic congestion, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. The project will also help to link city data with that of neighboring areas to improve regional planning and coordination.
  • Philippines: Carrier-Neutral Internet Exchange Point Rollout – USTDA awarded a grant to Filipino company Responsible Internet Sustainability Effort, Inc. (RISE) for a feasibility study that will help internet service providers in the Philippines to strengthen the delivery of high-quality and resilient internet services, especially in underserved communities. The study will advance RISE’s efforts to expand carrier-neutral internet exchange infrastructure through its GetaFIX business unit. This grant was signed at the 2024 Indo-Pacific Business Forum.
  • Philippines: DFC’s Loan Agreement with Lhoopa for an Affordable Housing Project – DFC is providing a $20 million loan to Lhoopa, Inc., a real estate investment company based in the Philippines. The loan will promote affordable housing throughout the country, bringing DFC’s total commitments in the Philippines to $80 million.
  • Philippines: New U.S. Civil Nuclear/Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Industry Working Group for Southeast Asia – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) is creating an industry working group for the civil nuclear industry in Southeast Asia.  The new Industry Working Group will be composed of approximately 40 U.S. companies seeking to gain a better understanding and traction on civil nuclear power projects, particularly SMR technologies, across Southeast Asia.  ITA, including the Office of Energy and Environmental Industries (OEEI) and the Foreign Commercial Service office in Manila will co-manage the working group, with the support of USTDA and other U.S. government agencies.
  • Philippines: MOU between PAEF and DOE on Civil Nuclear Workforce Development – The Philippine American Educational Foundation (PAEF) plans to sign an agreement with the Philippine Department of Energy to promote capacity building and workforce development through scholarships and academic exchanges in the civil nuclear industry in the Philippines.
  • Philippines: Announcement of New DFC Office in the Philippines – The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) intends to open a regional office in the Philippines to facilitate further investment across the country. The new office will allow DFC to closely monitor existing commitments in the Philippines and further mobilize private sector investments, especially in priority sectors like infrastructure, critical minerals, and renewable energy.   

New Commercial Initiatives in Indo-Pacific Participating U.S. and partner country officials, and executives representing businesses operating in the Indo-Pacific region, highlighted a wide range of commercial deals and new initiatives, including:

  • Advanced Micro Devices (AMD): Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) inaugurated its largest global design center, the Technostar research and development campus in Bengaluru, as part of a $400 million investment over the next five years in India.
  • Applied Materials, Inc.: Applied Materials, Inc., will invest $400 million to establish a collaborative engineering center in India.
  • Citi: Regional Indo-Pacific on Citi Debt and Equity Investments – Citi emerged as the top underwriter for equity capital markets in Asia (excluding Japan) for the first quarter of 2024. Notable transactions over this period include the US$2 billion combination block trade for Hana Bank, the US$1.1 billion block trade by Tata Sons in Tata Consultancy Services, and the US$689 million global depository receipt for GlobalWafers. On May 7th, Citi supported the Republic of the Philippines when the country tapped the U.S. dollar bond market pricing a dual tranche offering totaling US$2 billion, including a sustainability tranche. This is the first bond issuance in the international capital markets this year. It is the fifth G3 ESG bond offering representing the Philippines’ unwavering commitment to their sustainable finance framework and development goals. Citi also acted as joint lead manager for a USD 3.5bn 3-yr bond and 2bn 10-yr bond issuance of the Asian Development Bank.
  • Delta Air Lines: Strengthening Presence the Indo-Pacific Region – Delta Air Lines is strengthening its presence in the Indo-Pacific region to address returning demand both in business and leisure travel. The company’s investments include deploying state of the art aircraft and launching new non-stop services to Taipei from Seattle. Delta Air Lines has also added additional services to Seoul from Atlanta, making these cities being served with twice daily flights on Delta and enhancing more options for valued travelers. The company has also announced it will launch new direct flights to Brisbane towards the end of 2024.  Delta also continues its joint-venture partnership with Korean Air, connecting 80 cities in the region with 280 cities in the United States over its world-class hub Seoul-Incheon Airport.
  • GE: India GE Aerospace Expanding Manufacturing Facility in Pune – GE Aerospace has announced an investment of over Rupees 240 crore (US$30 million) to expand and upgrade its manufacturing facility in Pune. The investment will allow the facility to add new projects and manufacturing processes by acquiring machines, equipment, and specialized tools along with capacity enhancement of existing products.
  • Lam Research: Lam Research will train 60,000 Indian engineers through its Semiverse Solution virtual fabrication platform at the Indian Institute of Science to accelerate India’s semiconductor education and workforce development goals.
  • Micron Technology, Inc.: Micron Technology, Inc. will invest up to $825 million to build a new semiconductor assembly and test facility in India with support from the Indian government.
  • Microsoft: Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia: Cloud and AI Infrastructure – Microsoft is making significant cloud and AI infrastructure investments in Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. This strategic move will enhance the AI capabilities of these ASEAN nations, provide AI skilling opportunities for 2.5 million people by 2025, and position this fast-growing region as a hub for advanced technologies. Microsoft is also exploring future areas of collaboration with the U.S. government to support enhanced digital infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • PepsiCo: Vietnam: Snack Production Facility – PepsiCo has invested around US $90 million in building a new stack production facility in Vietnam. This project will contribute to promoting economic development, bringing long-term benefits to Vietnam.

U.S. Trade and Development Agency Director Enoh T. Ebong led the United States delegation to Manila and opened the event.  Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. delivered keynote remarks along with Assistant Secretary of State Daniel J. Kritenbrink.  Senior government officials from Japan, the Philippines, and the Republic of Korea also participated.  The U.S.-ASEAN Business Council led a delegation of over 40 major companies.  Additionally, Embassy Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Embassy Colombo, Sir Lanka, hosted their own satellite events during the IPBF.  Speakers from the private sector and partner organizations participated throughout the day, including executives and officials from:

  • Aboitiz Power Corporation
  • Amkor
  • Asian Development Bank
  • CdNet Communications Ltd
  • ExxonMobil LNG Market Development
  • IBM Asia Pacific
  • Integrated Micro-Electronics Inc
  • I Squared Capital
  • Japan Bank for International Cooperation
  • Jollibee Foods Corporation
  • RISE Philippines
  • Vital Energy
  • World Bank

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency co-hosted the Forum in collaboration with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, in partnership with the Department of State and with the US. Chamber of Commerce, the American Chamber of the Commerce of the Philippines, the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, Makati Business Club, and the American Association of the Indo-Pacific.  

Official news published at https://www.state.gov/2024-indo-pacific-business-forum-forges-new-collaborations-spurs-innovation-and-drives-investment/

originally published at Politics - JISIP NEWS