The Philippines stands to benefit from China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Initiative, particularly in the revival of the maritime silk route, as it dovetails with the infrastructure buildup plan of the Duterte administration and will help sharpen the country’s competitiveness in the global trade arena, according to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
Dominguez said that with airports and seaports as part of the Duterte presidency’s envisioned “Golden Age of Infrastructure,” the maritime silk road component of OBOR will open new markets for Philippine products in Beijing’s planned corridor between China and the Middle East and Europe.
Describing the OBOR as a “powerful idea,” Dominguez said this China-led project will promote free trade and integrate economies across Asia and Europe.
“We think that Philippines will definitely benefit in participating in this One Belt, One Road project particularly in the Maritime Silk Road section of that project,” Dominguez said in a recent interview in Hong Kong.
“The Philippines is building a lot of infrastructure, of course with the help of China, and among the infrastructure that we are building are ports and airports. That will help lower the cost of shipping our goods to say Hong Kong or to Shanghai and that will open markets to us along the corridor between China and the Middle East and Europe,” he noted.
He said the Philippines’ manufacturing industry, particularly companies producing electronics, and its food exports sector, especially those selling tropical fruits will have more and quicker access to new and profitable markets under the OBOR project.
“We are the largest exporters of tropical fruits (in Asia) so definitely there will be a lot of benefit to us if we are able to open markets in let’s say Kazakhstan, in Uzbekistan [and other countries], along the One Belt, One Road area,” Dominguez said. “And that’s aside from our manufactured goods.”
The OBOR Initiative, valued at about $1 trillion, aims to get some 60 countries to invest in infrastructure projects to develop land and maritime routes following the old Silk Road network that once connected China to Central Asia and Europe.
Dominguez said earlier that “DuterteNomics,” which is the Duterte administration’s economic strategy to sustain high growth and make it inclusive for all Filipinos, is anchored on an unprecedented infrastructure program that will require about P8.4 trillion over the medium term.
The finance chief also said the first package of President Duterte’s proposed comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP), which was approved by the House of Representatives last May 31 and is now pending in the Senate, will serve as the “cornerstone” of the funding for this ambitious infrastructure program.
DuterteNomics also involves spending big on human capital development and social protection to sustain the growth momentum, attract investments and create jobs, achieve economic inclusion and transform the Philippines into a high middle-income country by 2022, by which time poverty incidence will have been reduced to 14 percent.
If “DuterteNomics” is sustained over the medium term, the government envisions the Philippines to be a high-income economy in one generation or by 2040.