MANILA — Hawaii is working to assist small businesses develop and market more products to the Philippines, as the two states improve bilateral economic and trade relations, said visiting Hawaii Governor David Ige.
“There are a number of things that we are doing on the Hawaii side to support small business and the development of products for potential export not only to the Philippines (but) as well as to other communities,” he said in a press briefing here on Monday.
Ige said the state of Hawaii is continuing its focus on products in hospitality sector.
Edwin Hawkins, Executive Director of the Office of Economic Development, said Hawaii is looking for opportunity for investments in economic development and increased food production.
“We have large agricultural lands and we would be willing to look at various groups and I think the Filipino community is one of those that we would like to encourage either investments or assistance to them and developing these areas into a diversified agriculture,” he said.
Luis Salaveria, Director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, said there is significant trade difference between Hawaii and the Philippines, in favor of the latter.
Data indicated that from 2012 to 2016, Hawaii imported an average of USD 27.2 million worth of products every year from the Philippines. The major items imported from the Philippines were fishes, fruits and jewelry.
Hawaii, on the other hand, exported an average of USD4.7 million of products annually to the Philippines in the past five years.
“Our intention really is open up the collaboration between Hawaii and the Philippines and to find those opportunities and areas where we think that there could be a significant collaborative relationship,” Salaveria said in an interview.
He identified energy as an important area of collaboration in terms of sharing of knowledge and technology.
Meanwhile, Ige said the goodwill and trade mission to the Philippines is also focused on person-to-person relationship, noting ties between Hawaii and the Philippines are “one of the most important bilateral relationships that we have in the island.”
He said several important government-to-government meetings would be conducted during the mission.
“We will be meeting to talk about urban management, disaster preparedness. We do know that the Philippines has been leader in preparation and response to natural disasters,” he added. “And finally, we will be looking at further cooperation in terms of educational, economic and cultural exchanges.”
About 50 businesses, government officials and members of Filipino community in Hawaii, who are exploring business opportunities in the country, are participating in the goodwill and trade mission to the Philippines slated from Oct. 16 to 22.