Ladies and gentlemen, a good afternoon to you all.

We’d like to thank the conference organizers, Manila Times, for inviting us to speak before you today on opportunities for trade and investment between India and the Philippines focusing on renewable energy. We’d also like to recognize the many distinguished guests here at this conference that highlights how prosperity can economically and efficiently be derived from renewable energy sources.

As the Philippines builds back better from the COVID-19 pandemic, we aim to strengthen trade and investment ties with other countries under our “Make It Happen in the Philippines” investment promotion brand.

In this case, India has always been one of the Philippines’ strongest trade and investment partners. In 2020, you were our 14th top trading partner, our 13th major export market, and our 13th foremost import supplier. What’s more, you were our 10th top investment partner for 2020. We’d also like to mention some of the Indian companies in renewable energy that are operating in the Philippines, like Greenergy Solutions in Isabela and Greentech Solar Energy in Nueva Ecija.

However, Indian investors to the Philippines can still tap many other economic opportunities to help our bilateral relations reach its full potential. That’s why the Philippines is currently engaging India in talks for a possible preferential trade agreement covering a number of industries, including infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and fisheries, and railways, among others.

It’s not surprising that there are foreign companies involved in renewable energy investing in the Philippines, given that we have an abundant share of renewable energy sources thanks to our location near or within the “Circum-Pacific Ring of Fire.” This area is rich with geothermal resources, estimated at about 4000 MWe (or megawatts electric). To date, the Philippines now ranks 3rd to the US and Indonesia in the world’s utilization of geothermal energy for power generation with a total of 1928 MW installed capacity. This contributed a 10% share to the total electricity requirements of the country in 2019.

While coal currently dominates the country’s power mix, our Department of Energy (DOE) had declared last December 2020 a moratorium on endorsements for greenfield coal power plants. What’s more, the Philippines is now allowing 100% foreign ownership in large-scale geothermal exploration, development, and utilization projects. These large-scale geothermal projects have an initial investment cost of about USD50M capitalization through Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs). We believe these two factors will eventually increase the share of geothermal in the power mix of the Philippines.

On a side note, our own President Rodrigo Roa Duterte had urged government agencies in a 2019 national address to fast-track the development of renewable energy sources and reduce the country’s dependence on traditional energy sources.

To support greater renewable energy engagements between the Philippines and India, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between our DOE and India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) was signed in 2007. This MOA would help our two nations “collaborate in research, development, and demonstration of renewable energy technologies” as identified through mutual discussions. Likewise, DOE had sent a letter to our Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) last January 2021 regarding the interest to advance the country’s status from being an Observer of the India-initiated International Solar Alliance (ISA) to becoming a Member.  

These factors—together with our robust macroeconomic fundamentals, resilient economy, a deep pool of 49M manpower, and preferential access to major markets—show why the Philippines is still considered a top investment destination in the world. We also like to point out that renewable energy projects in the Philippines can avail of incentives with our Board of Investments (BOI) under our game-changing Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) law.

Finally, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)—through the Philippine Overseas Construction Board (POCB)—is mandated to promote the professional services of local companies in construction as well as geothermal exploration and development. In this regard, India power companies can team up with Philippine companies not only in developing geothermal resources both in India and the Philippines.

To conclude, as the world deals with climate change amidst the pandemic, one way nations can build back better is through collaborations in renewable energy. This will not only create more jobs and employment for our people, it would ensure that economic growth will be sustainable and resilient in the post-pandemic future.

Thank you very much and mabuhay tayong lahat.

Date of Release: 29 July 2021