By Kimberley Kao

The U.S. and Japan have outlined plans to invest in infrastructure, semiconductor and nickel projects in the Philippines as the three countries seek to deepen ties amid tensions with China.

The initiatives, outlined in a joint statement by the countries' leaders late Thursday, were announced as Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited the White House for their first trilateral meeting with President Biden.

The countries are bolstering economic ties through the "Luzon Economic Corridor." Investments and infrastructure projects include railways, ports and semiconductor supply chains on the Philippines' most populous island.

The U.S. International Development Finance Corp., a federal agency that helps finance projects in developing nations, also intends to open a regional office in the Philippines, according to the statement.

A separate White House release said that one of the investments will come in the form of a grant to Philippine miner Eramen Minerals to develop an ore-to-nickel and cobalt processing plant, and that United Parcel Service will expand operations at Clark International Airport in Luzon, with work on a new hub slated to begin early next year.

In the joint statement, the leaders also underscored "the need for close coordination in dealing with economic coercion" and expressed "serious concern" about China's "dangerous and aggressive behavior in the South China Sea."

The U.S. will launch new initiatives and projects at bases under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the Philippines, including more civilian-military disaster response trainings. President Biden's budget request for fiscal 2025 includes an additional $128 million for infrastructure projects, the White House release said.

The American and Philippine militaries have conducted joint patrols in the South China Sea since November. The disputed sea is ringed by China, Taiwan and Southeast Asian nations, but Beijing claims nearly all of it. China incrementally built up military outposts in escalating tensions, with the U.S. showing support for the Philippines to deter further Chinese escalation.

Write to Kimberley Kao at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

04-12-24 0409ET