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PHL, China discuss ways to strengthen bilateral economic ties


Despite the on-going spat between the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China (PROC) on territorial disputes, the two countries have agreed to further strengthen their bilateral economic ties.

Employing one of the pillars of the Aquino Administration’s foreign policy — the economic diplomacy, Trade and Industry Undersecretary and Board of Investments (BOI) Managing Head Cristino Panlilio met with Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) Vice Minister Chen Jian this week in Beijing to discuss bilateral economic ties and promote more Chinese investments and joint ventures in the Philippines.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported that Panlilio presented in detail a number of investment sectors in the Philippines which are ready to receive foreign investments, have the capacity to employ thousands in the countryside, and can spur economic development: business process outsourcing (BPO), garments and textiles, mining, and infrastructure/Public-Private Partnership projects.

He also met with China's Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology Xi Guohua and stressed the importance of connectivity between the Philippines and China, and pushed for more cooperation in the shipping and shipbuilding sector.

The Philippine side observed that shipping rates from Mindanao to Luzon are even more expensive than from the Philippines to China, due, among others, to the age of vessels and their maintenance.

Panlilio invited MOFCOM to organize business missions to visit the Philippines to scope opportunities, to meet prospective business partners and to conduct field visits and pledged full assistance from the BOI to visiting business missions from China.

Panlilio also pointed out that the bilateral trade in services would grow if China looked to the Philippines for its BPO requirements.

As the world's third largest English-speaking country in the world, the Philippines could service China's businesses in English-speaking markets overseas.
He urged China to bring its technology and know-how into the BPO sector, and encourage more engineers and scientists to visit the Philippines.

He added that the Philippines could be China's ideal partner in the latter's program to improve its English-speaking competence.

At the same time, Panlilio explained the importance of the mining sector in poverty alleviation, saying that this industry could create jobs and disperse development into the countryside.

He informed the Vice Minister that inactive mining claims in the Philippines will again become available for new investors, thus widening the market for mining investments.

Both sides agreed to expedite their work in establishing a "China Desk", manned by a Chinese official at the BOI, so that inbound and outbound investors in the Philippines can be serviced more efficiently.

Both sides agreed to deepen communications to ascertain the specific potential of the Philippine market for environmentally-friendly vehicle technologies.

Currently using gas powered buses in Beijing, Chongqing, and other major cities, China, shared its experience in developing both natural gas-fueled vehicles, including for public transport, and electronic vehicles (e-vehicles), and urged the Philippines to organize a delegation of policy-makers and business entities to visit China to understand the new technologies and applications in this sector.

Panlilio shared with Xi the different initiatives being taken in the Philippines to facilitate the growth of the market for new energy vehicles.

Because of the business-driven nature of the industry, both sides agreed to study the possibility for the Philippines to send a shipping delegation to China to meet with industry players and to determine how cooperation with China's shipbuilding sector can be established. (PNA/PIA9-BST)

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