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Philippines-United States relations
Philippines   United States
Map indicating location of Philippines and USA
     Philippines      United States

Philippines-United States relations are bilateral relations between the Philippines and the United States.

Contents

Overview

President Quezon, with some of his family members, are welcomed in Washington, D.C. by President Roosevelt
Photograph of President Truman in the Oval Office, evidently receiving a cane as a gift from the President of the Philippines, Elpidio Quirino, as another man (probably the Filipino Ambassador to the U.S., Joaquin Elizalde) looks on.
President Ferdinand Marcos and U.S President Ronald Reagan.
President Joseph Estrada and U.S President Bill Clinton.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and U.S President George W. Bush.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and U.S President Barack Obama.

Until November 1992, pursuant to the 1947 Military Bases Agreement, the United States maintained and operated major facilities at Clark Air Base, Subic Bay Naval Complex, and several small subsidiary installations in the Philippines. In August 1991, negotiators from the two countries reached agreement on a draft treaty providing for use of Subic Bay Naval Base by U.S. forces for 10 years. The draft treaty did not include use of Clark Air Base, which had been so heavily damaged by the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo that the U.S. decided to abandon it.

In September 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the bases treaty, and despite further efforts to salvage the situation, the two sides could not reach an agreement. As a result, the Philippine Government informed the U.S. on December 6, 1991, that it would have one year to complete withdrawal. That withdrawal went smoothly and was completed ahead of schedule, with the last U.S. forces departing on November 24, 1992. On departure, the U.S. Government turned over assets worth more than $1.3 billion to the Philippines, including an airport and ship-repair facility. Agencies formed by the Philippine Government have converted the former military bases for civilian commercial use, with Subic Bay serving as a flagship for that effort.

The post-U.S. bases era has seen U.S.-Philippine relations improved and broadened, with a prominent focus on economic and commercial ties while maintaining the importance of the security dimension. U.S. investment continues to play an important role in the Philippine economy, while a strong security relationship rests on the 1952 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). In February 1998, U.S. and Philippine negotiators concluded the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), paving the way for increased military cooperation under the MDT. The agreement was approved by the Philippine Senate in May 1999 and entered into force on June 1, 1999. Under the VFA, the U.S. has conducted ship visits to Philippine ports and has resumed large combined military exercises with Philippine forces. Key events in the bilateral relationship include the July 4, 1996 declaration by President Ramos of Philippine-American Friendship Day in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Philippine independence. Ramos visited the U.S. in April 1998, and then-President Estrada visited in July 2000. President Arroyo met with President Bush in an official working visit in November 2001 and made a state visit in Washington on May 19, 2003. President Bush made a state visit to the Philippines on October 18, 2003, during which he addressed a joint session of the Philippine Congress—the first American President to do so since Dwight D. Eisenhower. There are regular U.S. cabinet-level and congressional visits to the Philippines as well.

President Arroyo has repeatedly stressed the close friendship between the Philippines and the U.S. and her desire to expand bilateral ties further. Both governments seek to revitalize and strengthen their partnership by working toward greater security, prosperity, and service to Filipinos and Americans alike. Inaugurated into office on the same day as President Bush, President Arroyo lent strong support to the Global War on Terrorism. In October 2003, the U.S. designated the Philippines as a Major Non-NATO Ally. That same month, the Philippines joined the select group of countries to have ratified all 12 UN counterterrorism conventions.

The annual Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) bilateral military exercises contribute directly to the Philippine armed forces' efforts to root out Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists and bring development to formerly terrorist-plagued areas, notably Basilan and Jolo. They include not only combined military training but also civil-military affairs and humanitarian projects. The International Military Education and Training (IMET) program is the largest in the Pacific and the third-largest in the world, and a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) was signed in November 2002. Similarly, law enforcement cooperation has reached new levels: U.S. and Philippine agencies have cooperated to bring charges against numerous terrorists, to implement the countries' extradition treaty, and to train thousands of Filipino law enforcement officers. There is a Senior Law Enforcement Advisor helping the Philippine National Police with its Transformation Program.

The U.S. is also working closely with the Philippines to reduce poverty and increase prosperity. The U.S. fully supports Philippine efforts to root out corruption, to open economic opportunity, and to invest in health and education. USAID programs support the 'Philippines' war on poverty as well as the government's reform agenda in critical areas, including anti-money laundering, rule of law, tax collection, and trade and investment. Other USAID programs have bolstered the government's efforts to heal divisions in Philippine society through a focus on conflict resolution, livelihood enhancement for former combatants, and economic development in Mindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, among the poorest areas in the country. Meanwhile, important programs continue in modern family planning, infectious disease control, environmental protection, rural electrification, and provision of basic services—as well as PL 480 food aid programs and others, which together totaled $211.3 million. In 2006, the Millennium Challenge Corporation granted $21 million to the Philippines for a threshold program addressing corruption in revenue administration.

Nearly 400,000 Americans visit the Philippines each year. Providing government services to U.S. and other 'citizens, therefore, constitutes an important aspect of the bilateral relationship. Those services include veterans' affairs, social security, and consular operations. Benefits to Filipinos from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration totaled $297,389,415 in 2006. Many people-to-people programs exist between the U.S. and the Philippines, including Fulbright, International Visitors, and Aquino Fellowship exchange programs, as well as the U.S. Peace Corps.

Trade and Investment

Filipino soldiers painting a US and Philippine flag.

Two-way U.S. merchandise trade with the Philippines amounted to $17.3 billion in 2006 (U.S. Department of Commerce data). According to Philippine Government data, 16% of the Philippines' imports in 2006 came from the U.S., and about 18% of its exports were bound for America. The Philippines ranks as our 26th-largest export market and our 30th-largest supplier. Key exports to the U.S. are semiconductor devices and computer peripherals, automobile parts, electric machinery, textiles and garments, wheat and animal feeds, and coconut oil. In addition to other goods, the Philippines imports raw and semi-processed materials for the manufacture of semiconductors, electronics and electrical machinery, transport equipment, and cereals and cereal preparations.

The U.S. traditionally has been the Philippines' largest foreign investor, with about $6.6 billion in estimated investment as of end-2005 (U.S. Department of Commerce data). Since the late 1980s, the Philippines has committed itself to reforms that encourage foreign investment as a basis for economic development, subject to certain guidelines and restrictions in specified areas. Under President Ramos, the Philippines expanded reforms, opening the power generation and telecommunications sectors to foreign investment, as well as securing ratification of the Uruguay Round agreement and membership in the World Trade Organization. As noted earlier, President Arroyo's administration has generally continued such reforms despite opposition from vested interests and "nationalist" blocs. A major obstacle has been and will continue to be constitutional restrictions on, among others, foreign ownership of land and public utilities, which limits maximum ownership to 40%.

Over the last two decades, the relatively closed Philippine economy has been opened significantly by foreign exchange deregulation, foreign investment and banking liberalization, tariff and market barrier reduction, and foreign entry into the retail trade sector. The Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 opened opportunities for U.S. firms to participate in the power industry in the Philippines. Information and communications technologies, backroom operations such as call centers, and regional facilities or shared-service centers are likewise leading investment opportunities.

Diplomatic missions

The US Chancery in Manila, Philippines.

The U.S. maintains an embassy in Manila. The American Business Center, which houses the Foreign Commercial Service and the Foreign Agricultural Service, is located in Makati City.

References

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Department of State (Background Notes).[1]

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