CHINA remains to be one of the country’s top trade partners and one of its main sources of tourist arrivals despite disputes over the West Philippine Sea.
Trade and tourism between the Philippines and China have remained strong throughout the years, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
In 2015, China retained its spot as the Philippines’ second top trading partner in terms of total trade and the country’s fourth largest source of tourists.
The DFA said the country’s bilateral trade with China reached $17.23 billion while almost half a million Chinese tourists visited the country.
From January to June this year, data from the Department of Tourism showed that about 340,958 Chinese travelers arrived in the Philippines, contributing 11.45 percent to the total volume of tourists.
Among the top 12 visitor markets, China posted the highest growth of 79.15 percent followed by Taiwan with a 31.29 percent increase.
China recorded the highest per capita spending for June 2016. On average, a visitor from China spends P63,404.99 while in the Philippines.
“The Philippines continues to engage China in areas of mutual interest, including trade, tourism, investment, cultural cooperation, and people-to-people exchanges,” Charles Jose, spokesperson and assistant secretary of the DFA said.
“It should be noted that the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea dispute is not the sum total of the relations between the Philippines and China,” he added.
The official was optimistic that “there is still room for growth” and the upward trend in economic relations and tourism will continue.
“Both countries should work together to sustain this momentum of growth,” Jose stated. “More and more flights connecting the two countries are being increased or opened, so we are optimistic that we will welcome more Chinese tourists in the coming years.”
Among Filipino companies that have made significant investments in China are Oishi, Jollibee Foods Corporation, Eton Group, SM Malls, Robinsons Malls and Metrobank, bringing in world-class Filipino products and services to the Chinese market.
The Philippines is also the biggest source of imported bananas in China. Manila is still promoting coconut products, luxury furniture, home decor, fashion accessories, copper, and automotive parts, among others in Beijing.
“These companies not only sustain the warm trade relations between the two countries but they can also serve as channels of deeper understanding between the two cultures,” Jose said.
At the same time, most Chinese investments in the country go to the manufacturing sector. China has also expressed interest in participating in upgrading the country’s transport infrastructure.
The DFA encouraged China to also look into investment opportunities in the areas of agribusiness, tourism infrastructure and renewable energy.