Philippines hopes to boost cooperation with US in mining and batteries

WASHINGTON (Reuters): The Philippines is eager to expand economic cooperation with the United States, particularly in critical minerals and production of battery components, Philippines Foreign Minister Enrique Manalo said on Friday.

Manalo, in New York for the annual UN General Assembly gathering of world leaders, told an event hosted by the Asia Society that economic cooperation with the United States should keep pace with bilateral defense-related activities.

"One area is critical minerals, where we also hope to increase our cooperation," he said.

Manolo said the Philippines wanted to increase the presence of mining companies in the Philippines, and encourage production of battery components.

"In other words, we want to increase the manufacturing in the Philippines, rather than simply export our minerals to other countries," he said.

"We would like to keep them at home and encourage investment in the manufacturing sector, so we could produce the components in the Philippines using our own minerals."

Manolo said the Philippines looked forward to a visit from a first-ever U.S. presidential trade and investment mission early next year, to coincide with its hosting of the Indo-Pacific Business Forum.

He said Manila hoped this would "foster public private and private partnerships, as well as generate big-ticket projects in priority areas." Manolo said the Philippines saw the March agreement between the United States and Japan on critical minerals as a model and added, "we're very much interested in that."

The Philippines mining sector is vastly underdeveloped, and the Manila government said on Tuesday it would step up support for the local mining industry via exploration activities starting next year to identify more areas where critical minerals such as nickel and chromium can be extracted.

- (Reporting by David Brunnstrom; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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