Beijing encouraging companies to boost investment, imports
China will encourage its companies to increase their investment in the Philippines, while raising imports from the Southeast Asian country, said the Ministry of Commerce on Thursday.
Ministry spokesman Sun Jiwen said at a news conference that the two sides were negotiating a five-year economic and technological cooperation plan starting from 2017, which will identify key bilateral cooperation fields.
More bilateral cooperation methods are in the pipeline, according to Sun. Both countries will discuss establishing an economic and trade cooperation zone in the Philippines.
The 28th China-the Philippines Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation will be held at the beginning of 2017, co-chaired by Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng and Ramon M Lopez, secretary of the Philippines Department of Trade and Industry.
"China will continue to expand imports from the Philippines, especially agricultural products, and encourage Chinese companies to invest in the Philippines," said Sun.
In addition, China will consider offering financial support to the Philippines' infrastructure construction, and hopes the country will confirm a list of priorities as soon as possible, Sun added.
Earlier this week, Wu Zhengping, director-general of the Ministry of Commerce's department of Asian affairs, said China will encourage its companies to set up a large industrial zone in the Southeast Asian country.
While the total trade volume between China and the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations increased 0.1 percent year-on-year to 2.38 trillion yuan ($346 billion) between January and October, trade between China and the Philippines grew 10.7 percent to 252.8 billion yuan during the same period, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.
Trade between China and the Philippines amounted to $45.65 billion in 2015, up 2.7 percent on a year-on-year basis.
The two countries' economic and trade relations will heat up after the recent visit of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to Beijing, experts said.
Prior to that, Philippine direct investment in China was $38.67 million in 2015, down 60.16 percent from the year before, according to financial data provider Wind Information.
"Even though both countries have disagreements on some issues, it doesn't mean they are incapable of building better business ties, especially in the fields of trade and investment," said Feng Yaoxiang, spokesman for the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.
He Jingtong, a professor of trade policy at Nankai University in Tianjin, said that China and the Philippines also reached a consensus in August to speed up the negotiation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.