Published on November 17, 2023, 12:09 am

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The Philippines is looking to finance 80 potential infrastructure projects through its first sovereign wealth fund, according to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. In a speech at a Philippine economic briefing in San Francisco attended by executives from top US-based companies, Marcos stated that these projects offer high rates of return and significant socioeconomic impact.

While the specific projects for the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) were not mentioned, the government has prioritized 197 projects as part of its infrastructure push. These flagship projects are valued at around $155 billion and focus on upgrading physical and digital connectivity, water, agriculture, health, transport, and energy.

Marcos emphasized the significance of the MIF for the government’s infrastructure program. He aims to have the fund fully operational by the end of the year, as it could serve as an additional source and mode of financing for future projects. To support this ambition, Marcos flew to San Francisco to attend the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit.

During his visit to California, Marcos expressed the Philippines’ desire to increase its participation in the US semiconductor value chain. He assured partners in the Semiconductor Industry Association that they can rely on collaboration with The Philippines and that they are ready to work together.

In fact, a partnership in the semiconductor industry was discussed during Marcos’ meeting with US Vice-President Kamala Harris. This partnership aims to grow and diversify the global semiconductor ecosystem under the International Technology Security and Innovation (ITSI) Fund created by the CHIPS Act of 2022.

To further support this collaboration, Marcos proposed establishing a lab-scale wafer fabrication facility in The Philippines. This facility would serve as part of a science and technology center proposed by the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries of The Philippines Foundation Inc.

Semiconductors accounted for almost half (47.4%) of The Philippines’ electronic product exports in 2022. Recognizing this importance, efforts are being made to enhance the country’s capacity for assembly, packaging, and test as part of the US plan to boost front-end wafer capacity for advanced technologies and products.

On the sidelines of the APEC Summit, The Philippines and the US signed various deals. These include a pre-feasibility study on the potential of Philippine nuclear energy and a proposed cancer hospital. Additionally, agreements were made between Ayala Healthcare Holdings Inc. (AC Health) and Varian Medical Systems for the establishment of the country’s first cancer hospital, between Lloyd Laboratories Inc. and Difgen Pharmaceuticals LLC for collaboration in drug applications filing and marketing within the US, and between Orbits Corp. and Astranis Space Technologies Corp. for the deployment of internet satellites dedicated to The Philippines.

The government aims to spend 5-6% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) on infrastructure until 2028. The establishment of the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) is seen as a crucial step towards achieving this goal as it provides an additional avenue for financing infrastructure projects. With these ambitious plans in place, The Philippines is set to transform its infrastructure landscape and position itself as a leading destination for healthcare advancements and technology collaborations with global partners like the United States.

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