BEIJING – The Philippines (PH) continued to push for stronger bilateral business and economic relations with China following the fifth visit of President Rodrigo Duterte last 28-31 August 2019.

At the sidelines of the presidential visit, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) organized a PH-China Business Forum, which was attended by a 272-business delegation from established companies of both countries. These included business executives from steel, manufacturing, construction, mining, energy, electronics, tourism, as well as blockchain technology industries.

The Department of Trade and Industry is committed to aggressively promote increased business with China. 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,” said Sec. Lopez.

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,” the trade chief added.

China is PH’s largest trading partner, third largest export market, and top import supplier. The countries’ bilateral merchandise trade for 2018 amounted to USD 30.8 billion and USD 2.75 billion as of June 2019. Likewise, PH exports to China grew by 10% year-on-year (yoy) average, from USD 6.2 billion in 2015 to USD 8.8 billion in 2018, and by 7.7% yoy to USD 4.6 billion in January to June of 2019.

China ranked fourth in terms of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) with USD198.7 million in 2018. As of January to May 2019, the country ranked first with USD95.0 million. Prior to 2016, China was not in the list of PH’s top 10 investors and in 2015, FDI from China was only half a million dollars.

Sec. Lopez also expressed optimism in the relationship of the two countries under President Duterte’s administration. He shared that through the President’s leadership, the country’s bilateral relations with China is at high level and is opening many business opportunities between two nations.

At the same event, Steel Asia and HBIS Group also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the establishment of an Integrated Steel Mill (ISM) in Batangas, which will support PH’s bid to be a major producer of high-quality and safe steel products by 2030. The ISM will allow the country to produce basic iron and steel products, including flat products that are not yet being produced in PH.

Memoranda of Agreements (MOAs) were signed between Tranzen Group and their Chinese partners, which indicated progress of their projects related to the national WiFi and emergency services, socialized housing, expressways, as well as power plants.

Meanwhile, President Duterte encouraged the business delegates to participate in the country’s growth story and partner with PH in building the economy. The President likewise committed in bringing good governance and maintaining order to ensure an enabling environment, which would allow businesses and investments to thrive and prosper. The President also reiterated that his administration will ensure all investments are protected.

The PH business delegation included members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and Silk Road Chamber led by Ambassador Francis Chua, the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FFCCCII) led by President Henry Lim Bon Liong, and Philippine Overseas Construction Board (POCB) led by DMCI Holdings Inc. Chairman Isidro Consunji.

Members of the Chinese delegation included representatives from China International Chamber of Commerce for the Private Sector (CICCPS) led by its founder Xue Chengbiao, Panhua Group Chairman Li Xinghua, China Railway Sixth Group Chairman Ji Zhihua, China Power International Holding Ltd General Manager Tian Jun, Shanghai Geoharbour Construction Group Chairman Xu Shilong, C&U Group Chairman Zhang Tongsheng, and Zhongguancun Industry and Technology Park Management Service Hebei Co. Ltd Chairman Fu Chunyi.

Also present during the forum were PH Ambassador to China Ambassador Jose Santiago L. Sta. Romana, Special Envoy to China Ramon Tulfo, DTI Undersecretary Rowel Barba, Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC)-Beijing Commercial Counsellor Glenn Peñaranda, and PTIC-Shanghai Commercial Vice Consul Mario Tani. ♦

Date of Release: 2 September 2019