5 September 2016, MANILA (TSR) – Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Chinese ambassador to Manila Zhao Jianhua on Monday have agreed to revitalize Philippine-China relations in five vital areas of cooperation, including currency swap arrangements, agricultural trade, customs and tourism.
In a courtesy call to Dominguez, the Chinese ambassador offered Beijing’s support to the priority projects of the Duterte administration in the form of Official Development Assistance (ODA) for pipeline projects of the Departments of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), of Transportation (DOTr) and of Agriculture (DA).
Dominguez expressed his appreciation for the ambassador’s offer.
According to Department of Finance (DOF) Undersecretary Maria Editha Tan, who was present at the meeting, the Chinese side “strongly recognized the DOF’s role” in project financing “and is looking forward to participate on opportunities to support the Administration’s agenda such as infrastructure projects.”
Tan heads the DOF’s International Finance Group.
During the meeting, Dominguez explained the priority goals of the Duterte administration, which, he said, focuses on poverty reduction, upholding the rule of law and order, and seeking lasting peace with our neighbors in the international community as well as with armed rebels in our country.
The meeting held at the BSP Complex was also attended by Jin Yuan, the Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Manila; and Zhu Min, Third Secretary of the Embassy.
The talks also touched upon the Philippines’ membership to the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Tan said.
“The Chinese Ambassador expressed appreciation that the Philippines is taking steps to complete procedures in its membership with the AIIB,” said Tan.
She added that “the Ambassador reiterated the need to complete all steps for full membership in the AIIB so Philippines can access project financing to support its infrastructure requirements.”
The Philippines’ membership to the AIIB remains pending because the Senate needs to ratify the country’s participation in the China-led multilateral institution.
Tan said that during the meeting, Dominguez and Ambassador Zhao also discussed the following areas of cooperation:
· Bilateral Financial Cooperation, in which both sides agreed to revisit current currency swap arrangement to manage foreign exchange risks
· Project Financing, in which they agreed to explore possible areas of interest and cooperation in areas such as infrastructure, education, tourism, technology, power, ports and information technology (IT).
· Agriculture Trade and Cooperation, in which both sides exchanged views on growth potentials in the agriculture sector and shared opportunities where the countries can mutually gain benefits, such as the export of Chinese-made agricultural equipment appropriate to the Philippine setting; expansion of Philippine exports to China such as tropical fruits (e.g., banana, coconut, pineapple) and “high-end” marine and fishery products such as lapu-lapu (grouper), bangus, tuna, crabs, and shrimps)
· Customs Cooperation, in which both agreed to cooperate in addressing reported trade gaps, improving the exchange of information on import/export data and curbing the entry of illegal drugs from China to the Philippines
· Growth in Tourism, in which Ambassador Zhao offered to assist in the joint development of tourist areas in the country and expressed interest in establishing the presence of Chinese hotel brands and chains in the country and increasing the number of Chinese tourist arrivals to the Philippines.