MAKATI – The Philippines is keen on strengthening economic relations with one of China’s key provinces, Fujian. In a business networking conference organized by the Fujian government and led by Governor Tang Dengjie on 14 September 2018, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez discussed trade and investment opportunities in the Philippines as well as the Philippine government’s commitment to facilitate ease in doing business in the country.

We have strong historical ties with Fujian Province and its people. Our proximity with each other has attracted so many Fujian investors to do business in the country and partner with other Filipino business groups. Some of the known Filipino-Chinese Taipans trace their origins from Fujian. And now that we have renewed our relationship with China, we can push further our collaboration in enhancing trade and investment relations that would have mutual benefits for both parties,” said Sec. Lopez.

The trade chief encouraged Fujian businesses to locate and expand their operations in the Philippines. He emphasized Philippines as a critical entry point to over 600 M people in the ASEAN market and a natural gateway to the East-Asian economies.

He underscored preferential trade agreements with different trading partner countries such as ASEAN, Japan, China, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. Likewise, he highlighted Philippines’ participation in United States’ Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), European Union’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+), as well as the free trade agreement signed by the country to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Member States.

Sec. Lopez reiterated Philippines’ strong macroeconomic fundamentals as well as ongoing government reforms and programs to assist investors in doing business in the country. He also invited Fujian business delegation, particularly those from the construction and engineering industries to participate in the infrastructure development program of the government and employ Filipino professionals. He emphasized Philippines’ rich talent pool and young population, wherein 62.4% of the population is of working age, between 15 and 64.

Fujian Gov. Tang Dengjie expressed his positive outlook for Philippines and Fujian economic relations. According to the Governor, Philippines is an important investment destination for Fujian. He also commended the economic and investment breakthroughs of Philippines and China, as well as both parties’ efforts to promote people-to-people relations.

During the conference, 15 cooperation and joint venture agreements were signed by high-level representatives of Fujian companies and Filipino businesses. The agreements signed covered industry, agriculture, tourism, and real estate collaborations. There were also agreements signed to purchase PH banana amounting to USD 4.51 M from Del Monte Fresh Produce and USD 6.27 M from Verde Horizon Agri-Ventures Corporation.

Fujian investors and members of their business sector have strong interest in investing in the Philippines considering our potentials. They would also like to ride on our growing economy and join us in maintaining its momentum,” Sec. Lopez added.

Philippines and China relations improved under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. In 2017, China ranked as the PH’s top trading partner, fourth largest export market, and top import supplier. PH exports to China grew by 25.81% from USD6.37 B in 2016 to USD8.02 B in 2017.

Approved Foreign Investments from China also increased by 53.6% from Php 1.52B in 2016 to Php 2.3B in 2017. It ranked ninth among PH’s largest source of foreign investments.

The tourism sector also benefitted with PH’s renewed relationship with China. Agrowing Chinese tourist arrival was noted for the past three years. From 490,000 in 2015 and 675,000 Chinese tourists in 2016, the number posted a significant increase in 2017 with 968,000 tourist arrival.

Fujian province is situated at China’s southeast coast and was the starting point of the ancient Maritime Silk Road, which figures prominently in China’s opening to the outside world. Fujian has some 120 harbours along the 3,700 kilometers of its coastline. Their GDP growth in 2017 reached eight percent to a level of USD 472.1 B. Its capita per GDP exceeded USD 12,000 and ranked sixth in their nation. ♦

Date of Release: 18 September