Philippines-China Business Forum
30 August 2019, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Beijing

Welcome Mr. President and thank you for joining us in the Business Forum today.

The Business Forum is an essential element in the presidential visits to China as it highlights the strong bilateral business relations between our two nations. More importantly, this platform serves to create jobs and contribute to the economic development in the Philippines.

China is our largest trading partner and it has recently became a major source of investments, and this trade relationship continues to grow stronger every year under your Presidency, Mr. President.  In 2018, their nation ranked as our top trading partner, our third largest export market, and our top import supplier. Our bilateral merchandise trade for that year amounted to US$30.8B. As of June 2019, these rankings still hold true with our bilateral merchandise trade at US$2.75B. What’s more, our exports to China grew by 10% year-on-year average, from $6.2B in 2015 to US$8.8B in 2018, and by 7.7% year-on-year to US$4.6B in January to June of this year.

Moreover, China ranked fourth in terms of foreign direct investments (FDI) with US$198.7M in 2018. However, as of January to May 2019, they ranked first with US$95.0M. Prior to 2016, China was not in the Top 10 investors in the Philippines. FDI from China in 2015 was only half a million dollars, which grew to $198.7M in 2018.

While we have a trade deficit, China, after the first visit and Bilateral meeting of President Duterte with President Xi Jinping, has been buying more from the Philippines and is pushing for more investments with their Belt & Road Program, which includes the Philippines. Through industrial capacity cooperation, this program will surely be of mutual benefit for both our nations.

There is likewise a convergence of interests in priority sectors. This is an important opportunity for promoting investments and partnerships in line with our Inclusive, Innovative Industrial Strategy (i3s). Furthermore, this will increase capacities of our manufacturing base to serve the growing domestic demand, promote import substitution, and to export more—not only to China—but also to other markets.

Through today’s Forum and through missions and engagement with strategic partners, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is committed to aggressively promote increased business with China.

The private sector is one with us in this important endeavor. That is why in our 300-strong audience today, we have:

  • Business leaders from organizations like the Philippine Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PCCI) and Silk Road Chamber headed by Amb. Francis Chua, and the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FFCCCII) headed by President Henry Lim Bon Liong.
  • The Philippines Construction Mission to China headed by the Philippine Construction Industry leader Engr. Sid Consunji, which has the task to establish strategic partnerships in digital construction, and to pursue collaboration as we implement our Construction Roadmap; and,
  • Representatives from the China International Chamber of Commerce for the Private Sector (CICCPS) who were invited by Special Envoy Ramon Tulfo.

As DTI pursue a number of strategic projects, an important investment priority is the establishment of the first ever modern, environment friendly Integrated Steel Mill (ISM) Project in the Philippines. This is pursuant to the vision of President Duterte to establish the first Integrated Iron and Steel plant during his term, which will allow the country to produce basic iron and steel products, including flat products. These are currently not being produced in the Philippines. As such, this will support our bid to be a major producer of high-quality and safe steel products by 2030.

Earlier today, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between Steel Asia Manufacturing Corporation CEO Mr. Ben Yao and HBIS Group Co., Ltd., Chairman Yu Yong, one of the world’s largest steelmakers in the world. This MOU will establish the first integrated iron and steel facility in Lemery, Batangas in the Philippines.

Another serious investor in the integrated steelmaking from China, who is with us today, is the Panhua group led by Chairman Li Xinghua.

DTI also witnessed the signing of Memoranda of Agreements (MOAs) of the Tranzen Group and their Chinese partners. These MOAs indicate progress in their projects concering the national WiFi and emergency services, socialized housing, expressways, and power plants.

Mr. President, through your leadership, our bilateral relations with China is at a high level and is opening many business opportunities between our two nations. We are confident that today’s Business Forum will generate the needed investments that will create more jobs and employment for the Filipino people.

That is why we wish to thank you for pushing for deeper ties with our Asian neighbor. Greater trade and investment engagements between our two nations will surely help us to create the needed opportunities for our countrymen so that they can attain a better life.

May I now invite you to address the Forum?

Ladies & gentlemen, the Honorable Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines: