BEIJING—Underscoring the “strong synergy” between the economies of their countries, Philippine and Chinese officials have reaffirmed their commitment to bring bilateral relations between Manila and Beijing to a higher level through enhanced cooperation in the areas of trade, investment and people-to-people exchanges.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the assistance that China has been extending to the Philippines not only in terms of loans and grants, but also in the form of opening the vast Chinese market to Filipino entrepreneurs was one prime example of how the economies of the two countries are a “good fit” with each other.
On behalf of the Philippine government, Dominguez expressed his deep appreciation for China’s readiness in providing assistance to enable the Philippines to fully harness its economic potentials during a meeting here last week with Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua.
“We hope to continue expanding the mutually beneficial economic, trade, investment and people to people cooperation between our two countries,” Dominguez said during the meeting.
Dominguez led a Philippine delegation here in several meetings with high-ranking Chinese officials to discuss ways to swiftly address issues and challenges in the preparation and implementation of the Duterte administration’s priority projects that China has committed to support with Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans and grants.
The other members of the Philippine delegation present at the meeting included Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade; and Vivencio Dizon, president-CEO of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
Both Vice Premier Hu and Dominguez cited the “strong synergy” now evident between the economies of China and the Philippines following the renewed vigor in the bilateral relations between the countries under the leadership of President Duterte and President Xi Jinping.
Vice Premier Hu, for his part, relayed to the Philippine delegation China’s “strong willingness” to build more communication lines and work together with Philippine officials to ensure a productive working relationship between Beijing and Manila.
As vice premier for economic cooperation, Hu said China will continue to broaden trade and economic ties with the Philippines through closer cooperation in agriculture and tourism and infrastructure development.
He said China will continue to encourage more Chinese firms to invest in the Philippines, and cited the partnership between the two countries in the development of industrial parks as among Beijing’s proactive efforts to expand economic relations with Manila.
The Vice Premier also pointed out that the upcoming China International Import Expo (CIIE) is another opportunity for Filipino entrepreneurs as well as traders from other countries to tap the vast Chinese market, to which Dominguez said the Philippines was very thankful.
“We are very much appreciative of China’s desire to be involved in the development of the Philippines. We appreciate the fact that you are not only opening markets to us but also providing substantial aid to be able to participate in your market,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez said agricultural cooperation between the two countries is best demonstrated by China’s commitment to help the Philippines build the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project in Northern Luzon.
On the construction of industrial parks, Dominguez said the Philippines is looking at the commercial model of the park in the Chinese city of Suzhou that China had built in cooperation with Singapore as the pattern to be followed in developing the industrial zone in New Clark City in Pampanga.
Dominguez also thanked China for its financial support in implementing the Safe Philippines project, which will help provide an enabling, secure environment for businesses; the swift response in providing the requirements immediately needed to aid the reconstruction of the damaged city of Marawi in Mindanao; and generous funding support for the infrastructure program of President Duterte.
Earlier, the Philippine delegation met separately with China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Commerce Minister Zhong Shan to discuss the progress of the Duterte administration’s flagship infrastructure projects and ways to swiftly address challenges and concerns in their implementation.