Figures may be dissuading, but the country’s trade chief is banking on China to deliver huge sums of capital to the Philippines that should expand its manufacturing base.
Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the government will strengthen its push for stronger economic and business relations with China following President Duterte’s fifth visit there last week. Lopez claimed Chinese investments are necessary for the economy, as they will inject the capital required to propel the manufacturing industry.
These investments, he added, will provide the Philippines the capacity to produce for its own, reduce its dependence on imports and improve its export performance.
“The Department of Trade and Industry [DTI] is committed to aggressively promote increased business with China. This is an important opportunity for promoting investments and partnerships in line with our Inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy (i3s),” Lopez said in a news statement issued on Monday.
“Furthermore, this will increase capacities of our manufacturing base to serve the growing domestic demand, promote import substitution and to export more not only to China, but also to other markets,” he added.
Based on records from the Philippine Statistics Authority, investments from China grew 69.21 percent to P713.95 million in the first quarter, from P421.93 million during the same period last year. However, this amount accounted for just 1.55 percent of total investments from foreign sources poured into the Philippines that quarter.
In terms of investments, China is trailing the Netherlands, Japan, Thailand, the United States, Singapore and Taiwan, economies that accounted for bulk of the P45.98 billion flown into the Philippines in the first quarter.
However, last year was a different story. At the peak of the trade conflict with the US, China’s investments to the Philippines jumped to P50.69 billion, from P2.33 billion in 2017.
“Greater trade and investments engagements between our two nations will surely help us to create the needed opportunities for our countrymen so they can attain a better life,” Lopez added.
On the sidelines of the President’s visit to China, the DTI organized a business forum attended by 272 businessmen from Philippine and Chinese firms. These firms included business executives from steel, manufacturing, construction, mining, energy, electronics, tourism, as well as blockchain technology industries.
During the forum, SteelAsia Manufacturing Corp. and HBIS Group signed a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of an integrated steel mill in Batangas, which is seen to support the Philippines in its bid to become a major producer of steel products by 2030.
Tranzen Group and their Chinese partners also inked memoranda of agreement at the same forum. These deals indicated progress of their projects on Internet connectivity and emergency services, socialized housing, expressways and power plants.