The government expects China to become the Philippines’ principal trade partner in the near future, the Finance department said.
“In a couple of years, we expect China to become our most important partner in trade,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd was quoted as saying at a briefing organized by the Bank of China in Shanghai last week.
The benefits for both the Philippine and Chinese economies will be enormous, he claimed.
The Finance department said that bilateral trade had grown to $21.6 billion last year, up substantially from $12.32 billion in 2011. Tourist arrivals from mainland China also ballooned to 675,663 from 243,137 over the same period, it added.
At the same briefing, Dominguez also assured China of the Philippines’ full cooperation with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Belt and Road program.
“Both initiatives will bring lasting benefits to all countries of this region. Both will set the conditions for more comprehensive trade among the countries in this part of the world,” he said.
The Finance chief also thanked China for support of the Duterte administration’s ambitious infrastructure modernization program.
He said China had shown “immense goodwill” by offering to build the Binondo-Intramuros and the Estrella-Pantaleon bridges that are expected to help ease traffic congestion.
Dominguez said the Philippines and China had developed mechanisms that would allow closer coordination on a broad range of issues and concerns, which he described as “scaffoldings helping us build a truly functional bilateral relationship.”
The Finance chief said he believed that comprehensive cooperation between the Philippines in China, while currently in its early stages, would function as a “driver of growth in the region” over the next decade.
The Philippines, he said, can perform as a gateway to the very large and increasingly prosperous Southeast Asian market.
“We are grateful for the enthusiastic support China has offered to help as grow our economy rapidly. I am sure there are many complementary points that will ensure the sustained growth of an inclusive economy in the Philippines,” Dominguez said.
“There is much to look forward to in our trade and investment partnership. There is much ground for optimism in the vitality of this partnership,” he added.
Japan was the Philippines top trading partner in 2016 based on Philippine Statistics Authority date, accounting for 14.4 percent or $18.67 billion of total trade.
China was second with a 13.6 percent share or $17.65 billion.