MANILA -- Philippine and Japanese officials are set to meet in Osaka, Japan on Thursday to discuss ways of further expanding economic cooperation between their two countries, particularly on infrastructure development and on peace-building initiatives for Mindanao.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III will head the Philippine delegation to the 7th meeting of the Philippines-Japan High-Level Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation scheduled on February 21.

It will be followed the next day by a Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) to be led by the economic managers and members of the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure team.

Dominguez, along with other officials from the Department of Finance (DOF), will also visit the National Tax College Osaka Training Center to learn from its best experiences and gain inputs on how to transform the Philippine Tax Academy (PTA) in Manila into a premier tax knowledge center and an effective training arm for state officials and employees in taxation, the DOF said in a statement on Wednesday.

Adopting the “fast and sure” approach, Philippine and Japanese officials are expected to discuss in the Osaka high-level meeting the progress of project approvals and the processing of financing arrangements that would provide the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program with additional financing support from Japan.

Philippine officials are also set to update their Japanese counterparts on the ongoing peace process in Mindanao, following the approval of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which will clear the way for the creation of a new Bangsamoro region.

Japan, meanwhile, will report on its observation mission during the Bangsamoro plebiscite and on possible additional areas of cooperation to assist in the Philippines’ peace-building programs in Mindanao.

Since its first meeting in March 2017, the High-Level Joint Committee has made substantial progress in speeding up the loan approvals for Japan-supported “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure projects, with the processing time shortened to three to four months.

Dominguez said Manila and Tokyo have so far signed nine loan agreements since President Duterte assumed office in June 2016. (DOF PR)