THE new Chinese commerce minister will arrive here in March to sign the postponed 40 Philippine-China joint projects worth billions of dollars, an ambassador said on Friday.
“On March 7, the new Commerce Minister, Zhong Shan will come and the talks [Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation (JCETC)] can proceed, and then the signing of the initial projects. It’s like a priority list of those they will choose to fund,” Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Sta. Romana said during the Philippine-China Trade and Investment Forum.
He added that according to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, they want to start a couple of projects before the end of the year.
“It is a very important part for the coming visit of the China’s new Minister of Commerce. He will sign, together with his counterparts, guidelines which would guarantee that proper and legal procedures will be followed. Cooperation between both sides would be rules-based, transparent, and will stand the test of time, stand the test of laws,” Jianhua said.
The postponement of Chinese Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng’s visit to Manila was because of new appointments in the Chinese government.
An earlier report said that Beijing cancelled the Minister of Commerce’s (MOFCOM) visit to Manila this week, following the comments of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay on China’s activities in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
Sta. Romana said the new appointments made by the Chinese government in MOFCOM was the reason for the postponement of Gao’s visit and not Yasay’s statement during the Boracay Meet of the Asean Summit.
The Philippines has submitted to Beijing a list of 40 small- and large-scale infrastructure projects for possible loans and grants. Chinese firms are also keen to invest in the agriculture, fisheries and energy sectors in the Philippines.
However, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd, earlier, said a six-year development program for China-Philippines cooperation was due to be signed during Gao’s visit.
Dominguez said 15 of the infrastructure projects submitted to China were for loan financing, while 25 other projects were for feasibility study support. Three of the large-scale projects are worth $3.4 billion combined.
Meanwhile, Francis Chua, chairman emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said that Ramon Ang is interested to fund a connecting lane for the North and South Luzon expressway to Bulacan, Bulacan.