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15 April 2019

Published also in Business Mirror

Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez addresses delegates to the China-Philippines Summit held on March 29 in Manila.

DURING the China-Philippines Summit on March 29, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the Philippines is seeking to maximize its good relations with China by pushing for trade balance and more investments. The summit was attended by Chinese business leaders seeking investment opportunities in the Philippines.

“The Philippines and China have a special relationship that began when President Duterte visited China in 2016 right after his assumption into office. Today’s summit will help us deepen our trade and investment relationship,” Lopez said.

Philippine exports to China grew by 8.5 percent to $8.7 billion in 2018, from $8.02 billion in 2017, making China the Philippines’s fourth largest export market. However, Lopez wants to promote more exports not only of agricultural products, but also higher-value products like luxury furniture, automotive parts and electronics.

In line with this, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is already preparing for the upcoming second China International Import Expo in November 2019. For the first CIIE, the Philippines featured 36 exhibitors that sold $124 million in goods during the five-day fair. This year, DTI is targeting a bigger presence with 100 exhibitors.

“There is great demand for Philippine products. We just have to increase production of agricultural and manufactured goods for us to meet this demand,” Lopez said.

With around $962.61 million in approved investments in 2018, China is the country’s top source of foreign investments, according to the Board of Investments (BOI). The country leapt to the top from being 14th in 2016 ($31.99 million) and ninth in 2017 ($46.3 million).

Lopez said this is an indication of the Chinese government’s trust and confidence in the Philippines, which is seeking investments in manufacturing, e-commerce, infrastructure and tourism from that nation.

Also at the summit were Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar, Tourism Undersecretary Benito C. Bengzon Jr., Public-Private Partnership Center Executive Director Ferdinand A. Pecson, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority Acting Corporate Secretary Joy Alameda and Chinese Commercial Counsellor Jin Yuan.

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