President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday asked China’s help to boost the Philippines’ agriculture sector as part of his administration’s rural development agenda.
In remarks during the Kaamulan festival in Bukidnon, Duterte said areas in Mindanao, especially Bukidnon, “will have the priority” in manufacturing and agricultural development.
Addressing China’s ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, the President said: “It is not in all meetings that you are present so your presence today is very special and meaningful, and I said, because of that, because you are here, so I would ask you to help our agricultural sector, especially Bukidnon.”
During his campaign, Duterte promised inclusive growth through the spread of gains from the main Luzon island to other regions. He also pledged to shift development toward agriculture and manufacturing from the service sector
The President, in a speech on Friday in Pasay City, trumpeted China’s contributions to the Philippine economy.
“I would like to thank China… they initially promised P10 billion in investments, where in the world can you find that?” Duterte said.
The Philippines and China have been engaged in a dispute over islands in the South China Sea. Duterte’s pivot to the Asian superpower, however, has resulted in the normalization of ties between the two nations.
China has boosted the Philippines’ export of agricultural products as the export of bananas doubled, while the export of pineapples increased by 50 percent, Duterte noted.
“China says, ‘you sell to us what you have in your country, we will teach you how to improve quality before sending them here. We are opening the floodgates of our country in importation, for trade,’” Duterte said.
The President said he would visit China again for the “One Belt, One Road” summit in May.
“I’m going there, I was invited by the President himself, for the One Belt, One Road. It’s a very ambitious project of China,” he said.
The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, or the One Belt, One Road project, is a development strategy and framework proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between China and other countries in Asia and Europe.