DTI Sec Ramon Lopez with Zhong Shan from China
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez convened a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Commerce Minister Zhong Shan at the sidelines of the Philippine hosting of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings.

Seeing the assuring growth in the economic relations with the Philippines (PH), China (CN) conveyed that it will increase development assistance to the Philippines.

At the sidelines of the PH hosting of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez, who serves as the 2017 AEM chair, convened a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Commerce Minister Zhong Shan.

PH and CN discussed various measures to enhance trade and investment relations arising from the PH-CN Six-Year Development Program (SYDP) for Trade and Economic Cooperation 2017-2022 (SYDP) and the Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation (JCETC).

As part of the realization of the priority activities under the SYDP, the ministers endorsed the finalization of the Memorandum of Understanding on Industrial Parks Development between the Philippine Board of Investments (BOI) and China’s Ministry of Commerce.

“This initiative to develop industrial parks in the Philippines will help enhance the country’s manufacturing base and increase domestic production,” said Sec. Lopez.

A ground-breaking activity for some of the infrastructure projects under the SYDP was also proposed to be initiated within 2017. Said activity will be led by the respective infrastructure groups of both sides.

PH, meanwhile, mentioned potential areas for further cooperation including infrastructure, manufacturing (e.g. aircrafts parts, bicycles, e-vehicles, iron and steel, shipbuilding and irradiation facilities), cross-border e-commerce, big data analytics, and creative industries.

Both sides positively noted the improved trade and economic relations between PH and CN resulting from the Presidential Visit to China in October 2016, as well as from the successful convening of the JCETC in March 2017. PH exports to China increased to almost US$2.17 billion in January-April 2017, from US$1.69 billion in 2016. Further, PH exports of tropical fruits to China has increased remarkably in the 4th quarter of 2016 (compared to previous years), following the State Visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to China. In 2016, PH exports of bananas to China increased to US$144.77 million against US$109.15 million in 2015. During the same period, PH exports of pineapples more than doubled from US$16.26 million in 2015 to US$44.27 million.

Minister Zhong reiterated CN’s commitment to help PH rebalance trade by importing more from the country. He also invited PH to the China International Import Expo, which will be held in 2018. The Expo is part of CN’s move to further open its market and increase imports from other countries.

Minister Zhong also expressed his support for the growing interest of Chinese enterprises to invest and explore business opportunities in PH as demonstrated through the various letters of intent (LOIs) presented to the Board of Investments last March 2017.

In conclusion, the ministers agreed to work closely together to implement the consensus reached by their Leaders on pursuing practical and cooperative relations between both countries. PH also thanked CN for its support to ASEAN in driving the negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.