Philippine trade volume in the first five months of 2017 gained $4.3 billion as a result of a 34 percent increase in exports to China, Hong Kong and Russia, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.
Exports from January to May 2017 totaled $26.11 billion, up from $22.46 billion in the same period last year. Total trade in the five-month period this year stood at $63.26 billion, according to figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority.
During the period, Chinese investors registered a purchase order for Philippine products worth $1.7 billion, which the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said exceeded the previous estimate it had made, amid a surge in Chinese interest in the country.
Lopez said outside of that purchase order, China has so far bought $100-million worth of Philippine fruits.
China’s Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua has said the Chinese government was encouraging companies back home to buy Philippine products amid warmer ties between the two countries under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
However, Lopez added that the Chinese government is asking the Philippines to fast-track the construction of two new bridges over Pasig River, which will cost 500 million yuan.
“They want to see the implementation because [those projects are]milestone bridges,” he said.
The target is to start the construction this year.
Meanwhile, Russia is also committed to buying an estimated $2.5-billion worth of Philippine fruits, grains and vegetables, Lopez said, citing the talks between President Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Peru.
Russia has immediately agreed to a proposed importation of Philippine fruits and other agricultural products for the next 12 months, Lopez said.