MANILA – The United States and Philippine governments are expected to sign by year-end an agreement that would facilitate the entry of US nuclear technology into the country.
In a roundtable discussion with the media at her residence on Wednesday, US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson said the two states are “getting very close” to capping its negotiations since the talks on nuclear cooperation was launched during the visit of Vice President Kamala Harris to the Philippines in November 2022.
The 123 Agreement will provide the legal basis for civil nuclear energy cooperation and allow the export of nuclear fuel, reactors, equipment and special nuclear material from the US to the Philippines.
“I’m very hopeful that we will see a signature this calendar year,” Carlson said.
“It is a very complex agreement, but both sides from the Philippines and the United States have really rolled up their sleeves and gotten down to business and have made great progress,” she added.
The envoy said talks are about 90 percent done and the two sides are currently “reconciling all the specifics”.
The envoy said there are a number of US nuclear technology firms “who'd be very interested in investing” here but have no basis upon which to proceed due to the absence of the 123 Agreement.
“If we're able to sign it by the end of this calendar year, it may be a record for a 123 Agreement being signed, but it looks like we're getting very close. So I'm very excited about that,” she said.
“So as soon as that agreement is signed, then our private sector companies can work facilitated by both governments and sort of help put them together,” she added.
Carlson also shared that American energy firms are expected to join the Trade and Investment Mission that President Joe Biden will be dispatching to the Philippines in 2024.
The Marcos administration has been ramping up efforts to diversify the country's energy sources, which the Department of Energy earlier said includes nuclear power.
Last May, US nuclear energy firm NuScale Power Corporation has expressed interest to invest in the Philippines and bared its plan to conduct a study to locate a site in the country.
Oregon-based NuScale is known for developing a small nuclear power system, described as safe, modular and scalable.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos at that time said the country “essentially has a shortfall in power supply” and the support of NuScale would help address this issue. (PNA)