• Kyodo

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Japan yielded investment commitments worth $1.85 billion from private companies, a member of his administration said Thursday.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said the investments, forged through memorandums of understanding and letters of intent, are in the automotive, egg-laying technology, optical imagery, and biofuel fields, among others.

“The fresh commitments may generate between 200,000 to 250,000 direct and indirect jobs over the coming years,” Trade Undersecretary Nora Terrado said in a separate interview.

Lopez said the amount does not include possible fresh commitments from such big Japanese companies as Marubeni and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. that had brief meetings with Duterte during courtesy calls of their officials on Thursday afternoon.

Duterte’s three-day visit ended Thursday.

“We look up to Japan as a very good partner on all fronts — official development assistance, trade, and investments,” Lopez said.

Ramon Jacinto, Duterte’s adviser on economic affairs, described the Philippine leader’s first visit to Japan as “very positive,” noting how “the Japanese understood him very well in terms of what he really wants, and what he really means by asserting our independence, and that we have to stand up on our own, and that we have to create our own ASEAN region that is strong like the European Union.”

ASEAN refers to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a 10-member regional bloc that includes the Philippines.

According to statistics provided by the Japanese Embassy in Manila, Japan’s cumulative direct investment to the Philippines from 2000 to 2015 totaled around $609 billion, topping the Netherlands’ $431.3 billion and the United States with $399 billion.

Trade between the Philippines and Japan, its largest trading partner, meanwhile, totaled $18.8 billion in 2015, higher than with China, which is valued at $17.2 billion, and with the United States, at $16 billion.

On official development assistance, Japan is the Philippines’ largest donor, totaling $24.3 billion from 1966-2013, representing 56 percent of what the Southeast Asian country has received during the period.

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