MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte will fly to Japan at the end of the month to attend the 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia, where 10 deals with Japanese firms are expected to be signed.
The conference will be held from May 30 to 31 in Tokyo and will be attended by other state leaders such as Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, and Laoatian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez on Thursday said the Philippine delegation will have a business forum with Japanese firms on the sidelines of the conference to allow the President to meet with Japanese businessmen.
Lopez is also hoping for a bilateral meeting between Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
"Japan is our number 2 trading partner, so very important din na we sustain all these discussions so at any opportunity, magpunta dun, makipag-usap sa business sector, hopefully magkaroon ng bilateral din with the prime minister," he said.
(It's important that we sustain all these discussions so at any opportunity we want to go there and talk with the business sector and hopefully have a bilateral meeting too with the prime minister.)
Manila is eyeing to sign 10 deals--2 memoranda of understanding and 8 letters of intent--with Japanese firms, Lopez said.
He said the agreements cover the areas of electronics, manufacturing, and data analytics among others.
"There are big Japanese companies that we cannot also ignore.They still want to express their support and confidence for the current administration and they want to indicate their intent to invest more," Lopez told reporters.
More agreements can still be signed in the run-up to the President's trip, Lopez noted.
Duterte's trip, his first overseas visit since the midterm elections, is also expected to boost trade relations between Manila and Tokyo, particularly on banana exports, Lopez said.
"Lalong lalakas ito, two-way, but I think ang mas pino-promote natin and since Japan naman is the big brother, the advanced economy, we’re asking them to open up all their markets," he said.
(Our trade relations will be stronger two-way. I think what we are promoting now and since Japan is a big brother to us, is for them to open up all their markets.)
Duterte is also one of the speakers at the forum where he is expected to bring up the Philippines' new credit upgrade from S&P, as well as local bureaucratic reforms.