I am a Philippine national working as an economic analyst in the country. I have had a chance to study and analyze the economic and social significance of the involvement of countries like the United States, China, the United Kingdom, and Japan to name but a few in the country’s development agenda. Through my analysis, I have become pro-American given the economic and other related benefits the Philippines has had due to its association with the US. Over the years, the United States and the Philippines have developed a strong economic and diplomatic relationship that has fostered better ties between the two. The essay is a discussion on why I believe and support more American involvement in the Philippines.
To provide a brief history, the Philippines is an of the emerging world markets in the 20th century. It is one of the two archipelagic countries in the Asian continent that consists of more than 7000 islands. The islands are divided into three groups namely; Luzon, the largest island found in the northern parts, home to the capital city, Manila; the Visayas, located in the center, Philippines second largest city, and Mindanao,in the South West. The Philippines is among the four Asian countries selected to join the Partnership for Growth (PFG) program developed by the United States of America. The US government has partnered with the Philippines to support Philippine’s objectives of achieving resilient and inclusive economic growth. The United States is the leading foreign investor in the Philippines, and it is estimated to be worth $ 4.7 billion. The US thereby supports institutional reforms at the national and local levels to mobilize foreign and domestic investment as well as development in the Philippines.
The year 2016 was the 70th anniversary of the formal US-Philippine relations. A look back at the state of the country in these years shows that indeed the Philippines have gained so much from their relationships with the United States over the years. USAID is the significant component of the US government involvement in the country. The primary aim of the USAID is to promote trade, investment, private sector growth and improving Philippine’s fiscal performance. First and foremost, the US has supported the enhancement of the trade and investment environment in the Philippines. Through partnerships and monetary grants, the Philippine government has managed to expand the priority business sectors in the country such as tourism, manufacturing and agri-business, infrastructure development. For example, the US has encouraged its citizens to tour the Philippines, advised them to develop local businesses such as restaurants and companies that are a source of national and local revenue. From 2006 to 2014, the World Bank in partnership with the US provided the Philippines with US$1.1 billion to provide developmental policy loans to the Philippine people. These loans have been of great help to the citizens since they have resulted in better education, better health provision, power privatization, higher VAT and other taxations, and reduced government spending. Improved education and health have made it possible for citizens to be more productive regarding economic development in the country. On the other hand, reduced government spending has allowed the leadership to have enough funds to invest in significant projects such as infrastructure.
On the same note, The US has also assisted the Philippines to meet the international trade commitments and standard to promote trade policy reforms, by supporting customs modernization and full implementation of the National Single Window. For example, the Philippines is a member of the World Trade Organization which has helped it find ready markets for its export goods such as sugar and coconut oil. On the other hand, the country can get funds from the World Bank and other international organizations, thanks to the overwhelming recommendation by the US which sees the country’s potential to grow and develop its economy.
Security is the epitome of any prosperous country concerning economic development. The US always has on the forefront to ensure that the Philippines is safe and free from internal and external threats to security. For example, it has pledged to help boost the capacity of the Philippines to protect their waters, including the Spratly islands. In 2012, there was joint military exercise between the US and the Philippines which resulted to the stationing of 600 Navy Seals and Seabees in the Southern Philippines to help the Armed Forces of the Philippines deal with the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group linked to the al-Qaida on the Basilan and Jolo islands in Mindanao. Further, the US also works closely with the Philippines to provide education on maritime domain awareness, counter-terrorism, and building up the capacities of Philippine’s Armed Forces. For example, in 2014, the US under president Barrack Obama entered a ten-year pact with the Philippines under President Benigno Aquino III known as the Enhanced Defence Co-operation Agreement (EDCA) to allow the US to increase its military presence in the country.
Ending or reducing poverty in the Philippines is one of the primary reasons why the US is heavily invested in the country. Therefore, the US government through the USAID program continues to help the Philippine government address the critical constraints to inclusive economic growth. These include improved quality policies; better regulations and implementation; strengthening the rule of law and shunning corruption; promoting human capacity development; and improving the country’s fiscal performance. Additionally, the USAID provides support for most of the middle and low-class regions and cities in the Philippines, among them metro Manila by providing them with financial and other tools to facilitate economic growth. Besides, the US has partnered with the local and national government to bring an end to the internal conflicts and skirmishes common in the country’s impoverished regions, for example, Mindano by ensuring that they have an opportunity to engage in local enterprise expansion, and improving the connectivity between the poor rural and urban surrounding areas. What’s more, the US government has enhanced environmental resilience by implementing programs that alleviate the effects of natural disasters which the Philippines is prone to such as landslides, earthquakes, and floods. These programs have proved beneficial to the people since they have managed to minimize the number of people, especially the poor, who are most affected by the natural calamities from displacement, sickness, and death.
To conclude, there is much reason as to why the US needs to be involved in the Philippines. So far, there is improved economic and social development in the country owing to the US partnership with the local and national government. There is better health provision, improved infrastructure, advanced health and broader recognition of the Philippines as a potential economic hub in the Asian continent. Through the USAID, America is willing to develop the social the industrial standards of the Philippines thus the reason why I believe their involvement is a good influence on my country.
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