U.S. Commerce Secretary Begins Mission in the Philippines to Strengthen Ties

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo landed in Manila this Monday, where she will lead a presidential trade and investment mission to the Philippines today and tomorrow to bolster the United States’ economic ties in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.

“I look forward to spending a productive few days strengthening our trade links and deepening our bilateral relationship,” the secretary stated today on her X account.

Raimondo is scheduled to meet with Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. today to discuss various points aimed at further tightening the relationship between the two nations since Marcos Jr. took office almost two years ago.

Additionally, today and tomorrow, the delegation led by Raimondo will address other “important” topics with leaders, politicians, and businesspeople in the Asian country, such as regional supply chains and investment in infrastructure and clean energy projects, among others.

White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson explained at the beginning of the year that Raimondo’s trip is part of the commitments agreed upon between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Filipino counterpart during an official visit by Marcos Jr. to the United States last November.

According to Watson, the American delegation will hold talks and meetings to “enhance the contributions of American businesses to the innovation economy, communication infrastructure, and the clean energy transition of the Philippines,” while also addressing “the mining sector and food security.”

The mission “will reinforce the Philippines as a key hub for regional supply chains and high-quality investment” and commits to “promoting economic ties between the United States and the Philippines and internationally recognized labor rights,” the note adds.

The visit also aims to strengthen security commitments between the Philippines and the United States, which have intensified in recent years since Marcos Jr. came to power and amid China’s growing influence in the region, where it has territorial disputes with several countries.

China and the Philippines maintain a conflict over the sovereignty of several islands and atolls in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost entirely for “historical reasons,” although the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016 ruled in favor of Manila.

After her stay in Manila, Raimondo will travel to Bangkok for an official two-day visit, between March 13 and 14, “to identify opportunities for the United States and Thailand to strengthen economic relations on a number of critical issues, including manufacturing, supply chain resilience, artificial intelligence, and clean technology,” according to her office.