CLARK FREEPORT– Top diplomats abroad are pushing for the role of this former US military airbase as an investment and economic center for businessmen in northeastern America and other US states.
New York Consul General Elmer G. Cato said that this Freeport is being promoted under the economic diplomacy program of the government.
Cato made the remarks in Balitaan, a virtual kapihan of Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI) and Clark Development Corporation (CDC).
In the video conference, Cato said that the Philippine Center in New York, together with the American Chamber of Commerce, recently held a webinar that pushed for the Freeports in Clark, Subic and Bataan as investment centers. This, even as business and economy, are expected to regain ground with the ramping up of vaccination to counter the slump brought by the pandemic.
The webinar included CDC President Manuel Gaerlan as one of the resource persons.
Gaerlan cited that this Freeport has a total of 1,226 locators with Texas Instruments, a semiconductor manufacturing company, as the biggest investor.
In 2020, CDC gained a total of $6.45 billion in exports and $4.48 million total imports. Job opportunities were also given to 115,375 workers in Clark.
Meanwhile, Cato mentioned that the webinar enjoyed “a good viewership.”
“Despite the pandemic, one of the functions of the consulate is to promote the Philippines as an Investment and tourism destination,” he added.
Cato, a native of Angeles City, has been creating opportunities for business leaders to set sights on Clark while assigned in various foreign posts he held.
Prior to being appointed as Consul General in New York, he was part of the Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations and had also served as Press Officer at the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC.
A few years ago, he held a delegation of Iraqi businessmen that visited Clark. This was followed through by the visit of business leaders in travel and tourism organized by the Iraqi Ministry of Transportation in 2017.
Prior to this, Cato volunteered to go to Iraq where he served as Chargé d’Affaires, e.p. and Head of Mission of the Embassy of the Philippines in Baghdad, Iraq from 2015 to 2018.
He was also a Chargé d’Affaires, e.p. and Head of Mission at the Embassy of the Philippines in Tripoli, Libya from 2019 to 2021 prior to his recent assignment in New York.
“Our job here is to serve. In Iraq I have 3,000 Filipinos, in Tripoli I had 3,000, here (New York) I have 300,000 to attend to,” he said in a statement.