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Philippines seeks trade balance, more investments from China

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During the China-Philippines Summit on 29 March, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said the Philippines (PH) 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 PH.

“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,” said Sec. Lopez.

The Philippines exports to China grew by 8.50% to US$8.70 billion in 2018 from US$8.02 billion in 2017, making them PH’s 4th largest export market. However, Sec. Lopez wants to promote more exports not only of agricultural products, but also higher-of value products like luxury furniture, automotive parts, and electronics.

In line with this, DTI is already preparing for the upcoming 2nd China International Import Expo (CIIE) on November 2019. For the first CIIE, PH featured 36 exhibitors that sold a total of US$124 million in goods during the 5-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,” said Sec. Lopez.

With around US$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 on 2016 (US$31.99 million) and 9th in 2017 (US$46.30 million).

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

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

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