At least eight Chinese firms visited Manila and Davao City last week to sign contracts to import about 100,000 metric tons of Philippines fruits, including bananas, pineapples and mangoes.
This was disclosed on Wednesday by Wu Zhengping, director general of Department of Asian Affairs of China’s Ministry of Commerce,
He cited warming bilateral relations between the Philippines and China as having paved the way to improve cooperation on interests of mutual benefit such as trade between the two countries.
“The Philippines enjoys a high speed of economic growth. This is an attraction for Chinese businessmen to invest here,” Wu said during a news briefing at the Chinese Embassy in Makati City (Metro Manila).
Many Chinese firms, he added, have committed to invest in the Philippines, especially transportation, to take advantage of the country’s dynamic economic growth.
Meanwhile, Wu also disclosed “successful” dialogues with representatives from the National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Public Works and Highways and Department of Transportation about priority projects that will showcase cooperation between Manila and Beijing.
The dialogues agreed to revive the Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation (JCTEC) by early 2017 after almost six years of hiatus.
Wu said the two sides also agreed to sign a six-year development plan covering trade, investment and economic cooperation in conjunction with next year’s 28th JTEC meeting.
“We have been talking about infrastructure projects in the areas of railways, airports, bridges and expressways, and we also talked about construction of a Chinese industrial park in the Philippines,” he added.
The meetings came on the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte’s state visit to Beijing last month where his delegation brought home an estimated $24-billion (about P1.2-trillion) worth of loans and investment pledges.
Despite a dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) between China and the Philippines, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said trade relations between the Philippines and China have remained strong through the years.
In 2015, China retained its spot as the Philippines’ second top trading partner in terms of total trade.
Most Chinese investments in the Philippines went to the manufacturing sector.
“Last year, bilateral trade with China reached $17.23 billion, which indicates that Philippines-China economic relations remain strong. However, we also recognize that there is room for growth, and we are positive that the upward trend in economic relations will continue,” Charles Jose, DFA spokesman and assistant secretary, said in an email interview.