US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim during a short visit to Bohol last week invited students and young professionals in the province to experience the American student life through the EducationUSA program.
Kim extended his invitation in a speech on US-Philippines bilateral ties which he delivered during the “Experience USA: Caravan on Youth Opportunities in America” at the University of Bohol (UB) with local students and young professionals in attendance.
“For the youth here today, I encourage you to sign up for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative or YSEALI. Through YSEALI, youth under the age of 35 can apply for exchanges in the United States, workshops throughout ASEAN, and projects in their home communities,” Kim said.
He explained that “all these programs help youth gain the skills they need to work together to solve local, regional, and global challenges.
“Today there are more than 120,000 ASEAN youth in the YSEALI network. Joining YSEALI is easy and free. Just sign up at YSEALI.state.gov. We advise thousands of Filipino students how to apply to study at US universities and colleges,” Kim added.
Aside from the economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, US also provides “humanitarian and development assistance,” according to Kim.
He said the US government issues hundreds of millions of pesos in grants every year to strengthen the ties between our countries and advance our bilateral priorities.
“I was born in South Korea, spent part of my youth in Japan, and have served much of my career in the Asia-Pacific region. During that time, I have watched this region take off. The Asia-Pacific region now accounts for more than one-quarter of global GDP. In the next two years, Asia is expected to account for 60% of global GDP growth. Strengthening U.S. engagement with Asia has been, and remains, a top U.S. foreign policy priority,” Kim said.
As to the “substantial economic relations” between US and the Philippines, Kim said the Total trade between the two countries totals more than US$27 billion.
He also mentioned the US company, Convergys, as that the largest employer in the Philippines’ and the top Philippine exporter is also the US company, Texas Instruments.
“The United States is one of the Philippines’ largest foreign investors and its third-largest trading partner. The American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines is one of the oldest chambers outside the United States. AmCham runs a fantastic annual program called the Business Leadership Program. If you are interested in learning more about the U.S. companies operating in the Philippines, I encourage you to visit AmCham’s website,” according to Kim.
Aside from these important economic relations, the US considers the Philippines as its oldest ally in Asia.
“Our deep-rooted partnership and abiding friendship have been forged by a history of shared sacrifice and common values. These bonds are enriched by the presence of more than four million Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in the United States, and by some 300,000 Americans in the Philippines; all of whom help shape the political and economic future of our countries,” Kim said.
He also mentioned that for the last 70 years, the US Government has been conducting annual exchange programs “to advance the people-to-people relations between our two countries”.
“Through exchange programs like the Fulbright scholarship, the International Visitor Leadership Program, and a number of youth exchanges, more than 9,000 Filipinos and Americans have experienced the rich diversity of both our countries,” according to Kim.
The US ambassador said that one of the most pressing challenges that the two countries “should face together right now is the recovery from the Marawi Crisis”.
The US government- -through USAID- -has made available more than P1.2 billion for emergency relief operations and the long term recovery and rehabilitation of Marawi City and the surrounding area.
“Apart from our ongoing efforts in Marawi City, we also regularly provide grants to Filipinos to implement programs focused on initiatives like strengthening education, countering the spread of violent extremism, promoting youth leadership, building institutional linkages between our countries, and improving English teaching,” Kim added.
He also said the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement between the US and the Philippines enabled partnership and cooperation between the two countries’ militaries.
“US service members work closely the Philippine Armed Forces to enhance military cooperation to fight terrorism and respond to natural disasters. From providing surveillance support through manned and unmanned systems, to sharing intelligence, to offering technical advice – our militaries work together continuously to advance the security of the Philippines,” Kim said.
He added that the US Embassy works to strengthen all aspects of the U.S.-Philippine bilateral relationship – from economic cooperation to people-to-people exchanges, to peace and security.
“I believe there is no better time for the Philippines and the United States to partner on the wide range of important issues we face. The United States and the Philippines are, and will continue to be, friends, partners, and allies. We are committed to the security, stability, and prosperity of both our countries,” according to Kim.