In early July, a delegation of business executives and government officials from San Diego, California, took part in a trade mission to the Philippines. Headed by Audie J. de Castro, a Philippine Honorary Consul, the delegation’s purpose is to promote economic ties between the San Diego and the Southeast Asian nation.
The Philippines’ economy is the second fastest growing economy in Asia over the past five years. Although its infrastructure needs improvement, favorable international investment ratings and improved business conditions are starting to attract more investments into the country. Moreover, the upcoming ASEAN integration scheduled for December 2015 promises to increase opportunities for San Diego’s businesses to reach more consumers.
The group met with officials from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, and the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines to discuss prospective partnerships. The delegation emphasized that San Diego is an attractive destination for investment from the Philippines, who can build businesses to serve the 150,000 Filipino-Americans who live in the city. Nearly 7,000 Filipinos own medical practices or professional businesses in San Diego and the trade mission hopes to attract more Filipino lawyers, doctors, and nurses. In return, Mr. De Castro states that San Diego can capitalize on the favorable economic conditions along with a well-educated young population who can speak English to expand San Diego’s business opportunities.
San Diego County has had a long history with the Philippines, stemming from the thousands of Filipinos who joined the United States Navy after World War II. Young men from the Philippines saw the Navy as a ticket to a better life and later settled their families around naval bases, including one in San Diego. Today, Filipinos make up the largest group Asian Americans who live in California and many businesses have opened to cater to this group.
While no deals have been officially signed yet, the prospective partnership promises increased trade between San Diego and the Philippines.
Clarence Cabanero is a Research Intern at East West Center and graduated from American University