Vallejo Pursues Philippines Trade
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN, Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald
If all goes well with what organizers believe is Vallejo's first officially sanctioned trade mission to the Philippines, it could be the start of a lucrative relationship, some participants say.
About two dozen Vallejo business leaders and others leave next month on a nine-day fact-finding mission, said Vallejo Chamber of Commerce President Rick Wells, who will head the chamber's delegation.
Vallejo Mayor Tony Intintoli will accompany delegates of the Vallejo Business Alliance, a consortium of the four local chambers of commerce, members of Vallejo's Sister City Commission and others, Wells said.
The trip's goal is to find investment opportunities in the Philippines and potential reciprocal investors for Vallejo, he said.
The Oct. 20-29 trip's itinerary is exciting, Wells said.
"We'll be meeting with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the Malacanang Palace, and we're going to some economic development zones that were former military bases, with relevance to what's going on in Vallejo right now," Wells said.
The Philippine Congress, key members of which visited Vallejo last year on a renewable energy tour, has also invited Vallejo's delegation to an official welcome, Wells said.
The hope is to involve the two municipalities in reciprocal trade and economic development, said Vallejo chamber chairperson Verna Mustico.
"It first started last year at a meeting in San Francisco with the Philippine consul," Mustico said. "They began discussing the similarities between the conversion of the former naval shipyard at Subic Bay and what's going on on Mare Island."
The Vallejo delegation will visit Subic Bay's former base and the former Clark Air Base, which over the past five years has been privatized and transformed into "thriving economic zones," Wells said. They will also visit the Camp John Hay Military Base conversion in Vallejo sister city, Baguio City, he added.
Briefings by the Philippine Board of Investments, the Philippine Trade and Investment Office, and the Department of Tourism have been arranged, as have private meetings with industry counterparts, Wells and Mustico said.
Tours are also planned at the Philippines' Texas Instruments plant and Baguio's Boeing Aircraft parts factory, Wells said. Meetings are also scheduled with United States Embassy officials and other American representatives.
There have been no discussions yet about trade missions to other regions, Mustico said.
"We're hoping to learn information valuable to our members and the community in general, to explore import/export and other business opportunities," said Solano County Black Chamber head Peggy Cohen-Thompson. "To be invited by that government is really an honor."
Solano-Napa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president Omar Martinez said he's looking forward to the trip, for which each delegate is paying out-of-pocket about $2,000.
"We'd love to see our members be able to connect and build a relationship with the Filipino business community," Martinez said. "It should be good for our members and for Vallejo."
- E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at RachelZ@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6824.
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