April 24, 2019
More than $10 billion in trade and investment agreements will be brought home by President Rodrigo Duterte after he visits Beijing this week, the Trade department claimed on Tuesday.
“In line with the participation of … Duterte in the 2nd Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on 25 April 2019 … the Philippines will also be signing over US$10 billion worth of … deals, which translates to around 20,000 jobs,” the department said in a text message to reporters.
While the deals are still being finalized, the department said the final tally could even been higher.
“We are vetting groups and their plans and possible agreements on investments and trade,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez was quoted as saying.
“Actually most are vetted already. But we are putting [out an] estimate of [the] total as more agreements may be added,” he added.
The deals, some of which involve memos of understanding, involve food, energy, power, infrastructure, technology and services, the Trade department said.
On Monday, the Foreign Affairs department said that least five bilateral agreements on education, anti-corruption, official development assistance and drug rehabilitation would be signed.
Duterte’s China trip — his fourth as president — comes as Beijing seeks to lure more countries to join a global infrastructure initiative it claims will lead to closer ties and increased prosperity. Belt and Road critics, however, warn that the projects offered are debt traps and would only favor China.
Duterte, who has openly courted Beijing’s favor, is expected to speak at a Leaders’ Roundtable on April 27, the Foreign Affairs department said.
Ahead of the Belt and Road Forum, Manila yesterday also hosted the China-led Boao Forum for Asia (BFA). Duterte, however, skipped the event and Malacañang claimed he was “overworked”.
Speaking at the Manila forum on Tuesday, BFA Vice-Chairman Zhou Xiaochuan noted the Duterte administration’s own infrastructure initiative and said it would contribute to regional growth.
“Since President Duterte took office, the Philippines has implemented the national economic strategy centering on the ‘Build Build Build’ program, making the country more and more prosperous,” Zhou said.
“The development opportunities of the Philippines are a reflection of the development opportunities of Asia Boao Forum, for Asia is committed to promoting common development of Asia and the world,” he added.
During the China-Philippines Summit last month, meanwhile, Lopez called for closer economic ties between Beijing and Manila.
“The Philippines and China have a special relationship that began when President Duterte visited China in 2016 right after his assumption into office,” he said.
Philippine exports to China rose by 8.5 percent to $8.7 billion last year. China was also the top foreign investor in the Philippines, accounting of $962.61 billion in pledges.
FROM REPORTS BY TYRONE C. PIAD
Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net