A two-year strategic cooperation agreement between the Philippines and China was signed recently (October 21) at the Bank of China (BOC) Headquarters to service small and medium enterprises (SMEs) of both countries, in an aim to boost mutual trade and investment.
The BOC, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries (PCCI) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Philippines were the parties involved in the agreement, which intended to build a communication platform between SME customers of both countries to enable smooth cross-border cooperation.
In the same meeting with BOC top officials, the bank likewise submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte a pledge of USD3 billion-worth financing facility for industrial and infrastructure projects that will aid in the Philippines’ development efforts.
On the SME cooperation agreement, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez explained that DTI and BOC agreed to explore new modes of cooperation and services to assist the SMEs of both sides and to exchange knowledge on best practices on SME strategies. Fostering a favorable communication environment for SMEs and promoting economic and technological exchanges and cooperation between both sides formed part joint strategy to strengthen business relations.
In 2017, parties will co-sponsor SMEs’ cross-border investment and trade fair. The DTI will identify appropriate Philippine participation among DTI clients. Parties will also co-organize exchange visits among Chinese and Philippine enterprises in 2017 for special investments and business collaboration meetings.
On the agreement’s manner of cooperation, BOC will initiate the organization of trade conferences, and will share its innovative mode of trade matchmaking service, the “BOC Global SME Cross-border Matchmaking Service,” which overturns the traditional mode for attracting investments by adopting a six-step process, including establishing a database for Chinese and foreign enterprises, customer matching, remote online matchmaking, one-to-one meeting, onsite inspection and all-around banking service.
The DTI will also support trade conferences in line with existing DTI SME programs, such as the SME Roving Academy, Mentor Me and other related activities.
Sec. Lopez views the Philippines’ thrust to strengthen ties with its Asian neighbors a positive move. President Duterte has been keenly establishing good rapport with the Asian governments of Lao PDR, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and most recently, China and Japan.
“As we maintain relations with our existing partners, we will revive stronger integration with our neighbors, who have been the country’s economic and trading partners for centuries,” said Sec. Lopez.
These developments open up deeper commitments in enhancing economic, trade and investment ties, reaffirming President Duterte’s vision of regional economic integration, according to the trade chief, adding that the recent presidential visits should be seen as a symbol of renewing old friendships but not denying the already-established ones.