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U.S.-Philippines energy cooperation

Issues & Insights Vol. 23, SR11, pp. 18-25


The Philippines has made concerted efforts to begin its clean energy transition, but its geography has made it difficult for the country to access and deploy some of the valuable resources needed to make the transition. The Philippines is facing an energy security crisis coupled with increasing energy demand in general and already-surfacing supply shortages. Not even mid-way through 2023, the country has experienced brownouts on Luzon, its largest and most populous island, and multiple alerts across all three stages of its electricity systems: generation, transmission, and distribution. To address the crisis, the Marcos administration has been seeking to secure various international business and trade arrangements, namely with China and the United States. While the recent U.S.-Philippines 2+2 Ministerial discussed energy security, China announced in January 2023 a commitment to provide US$ 13.7 billion through nine Chinese companies to help the Philippines build its energy infrastructure. If the United States wants to enjoy a deeper security relationship with the Philippines, then the U.S. government will need to increase trade support for the Philippines’ energy sector. While meetings between U.S. and Philippine leadership in May 2023 show promise, the initiatives announced will need to immediately establish concrete goals to keep pace with Chinese investment and the Philippines’ growing energy crisis. Otherwise, the Philippines may be forced to cede large portions of its energy sector to Chinese firms just to keep the country’s lights on.

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About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the second U.S.-Philippines Next-Generation Leaders in Security Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy Manila. With backgrounds in academia, public policy, civil society and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Philippine relationship.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.

April Arnold is a Senior Advisor for Culmen International. She has over a decade of experience in arms control and nonproliferation and has recently pivoted to focus on international security and the clean energy transition. She has an MA in Sustainable Energy at Johns Hopkins University and BA in International Relations from University of Delaware.

Photo: The Malampaya Gas Field in the South China Sea. Source: Shell Philippines