Trilateral Partnership with U.S., Japan to Boost FDI

In a significant move aimed at enhancing regional security and strengthening ties, the Philippines, United States, and Japan have forged a trilateral partnership. The announcement came following a White House summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden, with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in attendance.

The leaders unveiled plans for collaborative economic projects in the Philippines, including the development of an infrastructure and high-tech connectivity corridor on Luzon, the country’s main island. This initiative is part of a broader strategy to promote economic growth, attract foreign investment, and bolster regional stability.

While emphasising the partnership as a defence cooperation pact, the leaders expressed their commitment to upholding the rules-based international order. They also opposed China’s coercive actions in the South China Sea and East China Sea, signalling a united front against Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the region.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the namesake son of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, highlighted the significance of the trilateral partnership. He described it as a natural progression of deepening relations and robust cooperation among the three nations, linked by a profound respect for democracy, good governance, and the rule of law.

The trilateral meeting follows ongoing collaboration between security officials from the three nations who have been laying the foundation for “trilateral maritime exercises” and expanding annual large-scale maritime exercises between the U.S. and the Philippines.

While the partnership is expected to focus on defence and security, the leaders also launched the “Luzon Corridor” initiative. They pledged to accelerate coordinated investments in critical areas, including Subic Bay and Clark north of Manila, which were sites of two of America’s largest overseas bases until the early 1990s.

The trilateral partnership signifies a deepening of relations between the Philippines, U.S., and Japan with a shared vision of a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. The alliance aims to strengthen interoperability between their forces, expand operational coordination, and address complex regional challenges.

In response to the summit, China’s foreign ministry criticised the trilateral partnership as “bloc politics” and expressed opposition to the formation of exclusive groupings in the region. Beijing called for normal relations with other countries without introducing bloc confrontation.

Defence analyst Chester Cabalza noted that the partnership could boost business confidence and counter China’s influence in Southeast Asia. He emphasised that the combined GDP of the three nations surpasses that of China, providing a strong economic counterbalance in the region.

The trilateral partnership represents a significant strategic shift for the Philippines, which has been navigating its foreign policy amidst geopolitical tensions. By aligning with the U.S. and Japan, the Philippines aims to attract more foreign investment, strengthen its defense capabilities, and assert its position in the rapidly evolving geopolitical landscape