Philippines and China Sign Six Agreements
- The Philippines and China signed six bilateral agreements, further cementing the Philippines-China relationship.
- The agreements covered infrastructure, trade, customs, and communications.
- China is fast becoming one of the Philippines’ largest trading partners.
Since 1975, diplomatic relations between China and the Philippines have been developing steadily. Over the years, several bilateral agreements were signed with the aim to strengthen cooperation and increase the level of mutual trust and confidence. In 2018, bilateral trade between the two nations amounted to US$55 billion.On October 24, 2019, the Finance Secretary of the Philippines, Carlos Dominguez III and China’s Vice Premier Hu Chunhua, signed several agreements during a meeting held at the Bureau of Treasury in Manila. Two of the agreements are part of President Duterte’s flagship infrastructure program called “Build, Build, Build” while the other four cover trade, customs, and communications. They also discussed the best ways to integrate the “Build, Build, Build” program with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.
The agreements signed were the following:
- Davao City expressway project
This project involves the construction of a 24.4km (15.1 miles) expressway within Davao City connecting the Sta. Ana Port to the outer part of the city. This was proposed by the Duterte administration in order to relieve traffic congestion within the city as well as encourage economic activities from the improvement of accessibility. The project is estimated to cost around US$478.5 million and will be financed by the official development assistance (ODA) loan package from the Chinese Government. The 12-month feasibility study will be conducted by CCCC Highway Consultants Co. Ltd., a Chinese contractor.
- Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) island bridge project
The feasibility study for the construction of the 5.7km (3.5 miles) Panay-Guimaras bridge and the 12.3km (7.6 miles) Guimaras-Negros bridge is set to be completed before 2020. The study was conducted by Chinese firm CCCC Highways Consultations Co., Ltd, and the funding for the project (worth US$535 million) was provided through a grant from the Chinese government.
- The Philippine radio equipment project
The Chinese government donated a variety of broadcasting equipment to the Presidential Communications Operations Office’s (PCOO) Philippine Broadcasting Service (PBS); a state-owned regional radio station. The donation includes live broadcast equipment, FM broadcast equipment, transmitters, and medium wave transmitter equipment.
- The China-Aid Container Testing Equipment
China will donate four sets of Mobile Container/Vehicle Inspection Systems and two sets of CT Scan Inspection Systems to the country’s Bureau of Customs.
The following two bilateral documents were also signed:
- Implementation of the Marawi Sports Complex and Central Market Projects
These two projects are part of the reconstruction program for the ruined city of Marawi. Both projects will have a total floor area of about 13,202 square meters:
- Sports Complex – 6,505 square meters that can hold up to 1,000 people; and
- Central Market – 7,148 square meters that will include a functional area and equipment rooms.
- Protocol on Phytosanitary Requirements for the Export of Avocado from the Philippines to China
This agreement will see the Philippines and China develop a protocol on the phytosanitary requirements needed for the export of Hass avocados to China. In 2017, the demand for avocados in China increased more than 1000 times compared to 2011.
China, The Philippines’ partner for growth
These agreements represent the steady growth of bilateral trade between the Philippines and China. Today, China is one of the country’s major trading partners with an export value of US$944.23 million in August 2019. In addition, it also brings in the most value of imported goods into the country with a 23.1 percent share of total imports in August 2019. China is also one of the country’s top investors with investments reaching US$980 million in 2018.
With China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Philippines’ Build, Build, Build program, the two countries have an aligned infrastructure development agenda, which could lead to greater opportunities for cooperation and collaboration.