PH, China revive joint trade body
Trade officials from Manila and Beijing have started preparations to convene the Philippine-China Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation (JCETC) more than five years since its last meeting in August 2011.
According to Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo, the two governments were also following up on gains achieved during President Duterte’s recent meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Bilateral meetings were held during Duterte’s visit to China last October as well as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in Peru last week.
Preparations for the JCETC meeting kicked off earlier this month as the Department of Trade and Industry hosted a 14-member delegation from Beijing led by Wu Zhengping, director of general for Asia in Beijing’s Ministry of Commerce.
The Philippine side included officials from the Board of Investments (BOI) and the Bureau of International Trade Relations (BITR).
“The Joint Commission last convened in 2011 and the 28th meeting of the JCETC will serve as a quick follow through from the economic agreements signed in Beijing,” Rodolfo said.
He explained that next year’s meeting will tackle specific economic cooperation initiatives in fields such as trade and investment promotion, manufacturing, infrastructure, tourism, energy, development of MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprise), agriculture and the crafting of a development program for economic cooperation.
“The JCETC allows both sides to pursue concrete implementation projects toward greater ties in trade, investment and economic cooperation from broad strokes arrived at under the agreements signed in October 2016,” Rodolfo said.
Last October, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the $24-billion investment and credit line pledges that Manila secured from Beijing during Mr. Duterte’s visit were a display of “greater confidence” in the future economic relationship of the two countries.
The package included $15 billion worth of investment agreements that are expected to generate two million jobs over the next five years as well as $9 billion worth of financing facilities.
In an earlier briefing at the Chinese embassy in Manila, Wu said the Philippines and China “agreed to sign a six-year development plan in the areas of trade, investment, and economic cooperation” in connection with the planned 28th JCETC meeting next year.
He said the Philippines and China discussed the possible construction of railways, airports, bridges and expressways and that the two countries had talked about the construction of a Chinese industrial park in the Philippines.
“I think the Chinese companies expressed the hope that they are going to invest more in the Philippines, both to take advantage of the good economic growth here in the Philippines and also to use the Philippines as a gateway to other markets, including Asean and neighboring countries,” Wu said.
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