BEIJING—China’s Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Commerce Department of Asian Affairs Gang Peng, citing his country’s statistics, disclosed that bilateral trade between China and the Philippines reached US$19.4 billion during the first five months of 2017, up by 8.1 percent on a year on year basis.
Interviewed by visiting Filipino journalists, Peng said this was sterling even against insufficient global demand.
Since 2010, he said the bilateral trade had increased four years running with an annual average gross rate is 12.6 percent.
Peng said China was the second largest trade partner of the Philippines in 2016.
In the first four months of 2017, the bilateral trade volume reached $7.3 billion, up 16.1 percent year on year and accounts for 15 percent of the total trade volume of the Philppines.
“So for the first four months of this year, China has become the biggest trade partner of the Philippines,” he said.
“Of course if we combine mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan together, we’ll find that China has already become the biggest trade partner of the Philippines for a long time and accounts for more than 20 percent of the trade volume of the Philippines,” he added.
He noted that China attached great importance to expanding bilateral trade with the Philippines, especially expanding the import trade from the Philippines.
Ever since last year, he said, China organized two procurement missions in the Philippines to purchase products including fruits, electronics, copper and aquatic products.
The total amount reached $1.8 million.
China and the Philippines have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding and the quarantine of animals transportation.
Peng said China restored the export license of 21 Philippine enterprises to export bananas and pineapples to China and approved the export license of seven Philippine exporters to export mangoes to China.
He said China would continue to strengthen the cooperation with the Philippines in market access and customs facilitation and provide support and facilitation for the export of avocados, coconuts, durian, mangosteens, melon and dragonfruits from the Philippines to China.
With this development—the turnaround—and improvement of relations between China and the Philippines, Peng noted Chinese investors were becoming more confident in the Philippines.
Before that, he said many Chinese companies were interested in investing in the Philippines but were stopped by the policy of the previous administration.
He said while there was a great potential for the two governments, last year the actual two-way investment was not that large. “It’s only a little bit more than $4 billion.”
“Therefore I believe that with the removal of the barriers, the great potential of our bilateral economic and trade cooperaton especially in the field of two-way investment will be released.”
He said that when Duterte visited China in October last year, the leaders of the two countries achieved great consensus on cooperation and practical cooperation.
“And because of this, our two countries realized the turnaround of our bilateral relations and our economic and trade cooperation has been constantly promoted and achieved great progress.”
In March this year, Peng said Minister of the Ministry of Commerce of China and the Secretary of Trade of the Philippines Ramon Lopez co-chaired the 28th meeting of the Joint Committee of Economic and Trade cooperation between China and the Philippines which has been suspended for six years.
He said this move had quickly promoted the bilateral economic and trade cooperation.
In recent years, he said Chinese companies were greatly involved in construction infrastructure projects including water conservation, energy, roads and ports in the Philippines.