THE Philippine agri-food industry in-tends to continue strengthening trade activities with partners in Greater China as the sector believes there is still strong potential for commerce despite the controversy over the recent South China Sea ruling.
Roberto Amores, president of the Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Organization Inc., food trustee of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PhilExport), and chairman of the Agriculture Committee of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), expressed optimism that trade relations between the Philippines and China will soon get past the political bump arising from the territorial dispute given their long-established trade ties.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on July 12 ruled in favor of the Philippines in its maritime dispute with China, saying that China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to bulk of the South China Sea.
PhilExport-Cebu president Nelson Bascones said in July that most exporters have not reported any business disruption following the tribunal’s ruling as both governments were trying to address the matter via diplomatic means.
Cebuano exporters have even noted improving demand from China in recent months, especially for processed food and seafood products, Bascones said, adding that “more and more marine products are shipped to China now, from Cebu.”
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), China was the Philippines’ second largest trading partner and third largest export market in 2015.
The latest PSA data show that Greater China—comprised of Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan—is among the Philippines’ top 10 export markets. In May this year, Hong Kong was the country’s third leading export destination, while the mainland came fourth, and Taiwan eighth, data showed.
Hong Kong took in $513.67 million worth of Philippine exports for a 10.9-percent share of total exports during the month. China had a 10.6-percent share to total exports, with shipments valued at $499.15 million. Taiwan accounted for $163.98 million or a 3.5-percent share.
On the other hand, mainland China remains the country’s biggest source of imports with a 20.4-percent share in May 2016, according to the PSA. Philippine import payments reached $1.37 billion in May this year, an increase of 65.7 percent from $828.66 million in May 2015. This generated a total trade value of $1.87 billion, with a trade deficit for the Philippines of $879.87 million.
Taiwan was the Philippines’ sixth-largest import source in May 2016, supplying $441.21 million worth of imported goods for a 6.5-percent share of the country’s total imports, while Hong Kong was the 10th biggest source with $211.11 million worth of imports for a 3.1-percent share.