China’s commitment to buy Philippine goods has convinced more businessmen in the world’s second-biggest economy to sign more purchase agreements, boosting total pledges to $1.7 billion.
The Chinese government also offered P4 billion in grants to four medium-scale infrastructure projects.
The purchasing agreements signed Wednesday was the “advanced result of President Duterte’s state visit to China” in 2016,” China Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said.
“This is an effort to balance our trade. It was the first time China asked Chinese businessmen to directly purchase goods from another country. This is the first-of-its-kind agreement in the Asean,” he said.
The agreements will be the first of many similar arrangements as China also seeks to buy more non-food products such as chemicals and related goods.
China began increasing fruit imports from the Philippines since October 2016 that has led to trade figures of $100 million in the last five months.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said discussion for increased cooperation on trade matters and infrastructure program were moving forward with commitments translating into agreements.
Signed Wednesday were agreements between Chinese and Filipinos companies for the supply of Philippine fruits and agricultural products to China.
The companies include Sinochem Fertilizer Co. Ltd., China SDC International, China National Township Enterprises Corp., CRM International (Beijing) Ltd., China Garments Co. Ltd., Potevio International Ltd. and China Plastic Products Import & Export Corp.
They were joined by Sinochem Plastics Co. Ltd., China National Chemical Fiber Corp., China Textile Industrial Corp. for Foreign Economic and Technical Corp., Chinatex Raw Materials International Trading Corp., China Sinopharm International Corp., China Cheng Tong Holdings Group Ltd., Chinalight Everbright Import and Export Corp., Kunlun International Co. Ltd., CITIC International Co. Ltd. and China Light General Merchandise Import & Export Corp.
Philippine goods up for trading include organic coconut products, coco fiber, aqua marine products, ethanol, dried sorghum, garments, textiles, fatty alcohol, fruits, copper cathodes and potassium sulfate.
Meanwhile, the P4-billion grant will involve the construction of two bridges over Pasig River—Estrella-Pantaleon and Binondo-Intramuros—as well as two drug rehabilitation centers in Mindanao.
The grant is part of the six-year development plan agreed between the Philippines and China during the signing of the Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation early March.
“The past year was a drastic development in our relationship with China. Now, there’s no looking back. When we signed the six-year JCETC, we have agreed to further strengthen our relationship which will go beyond trading,” said Lopez.