Philippines reaping economic benefits from harmonious ties with China: Finance chief
26 Nov 2019


Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has said that the Philippines is reaping the benefits from building a harmonious relationship with China, reiterating the Philippines' full support for China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).


In a finance forum held in Guangzhou, China over the weekend, Dominguez pointed out that as a result of this warming of relations between the two countries on President Rodrigo Duterte's watch, China has become the Philippines' biggest trading partner and one of the largest tourism markets.


Since 2016, he said, the Philippines' total trade with China increased at an average of 15 percent annually. Last year, the total trade with China reached 52 billion U.S. dollars, which was 15 percent higher than the 2017 level.


Chinese tourist arrivals in the Philippines, meanwhile, grew at an average of 27 percent per year since the start of the Duterte administration, he added. "It reached 1.63 million arrivals in 2018, or 23 percent higher than the visits recorded in 2017."


Moreover, he said the Philippines obtained the best terms - a very tight spread of 32 basis points over the benchmark - for its maiden and subsequent "Panda" bond issuances in the Chinese market.


The China Lianhe Credit Rating also rated the Philippines' Panda bond issuances as Triple A, which is its highest rating, he said.


"The synergy created by closer Philippines-China economic cooperation is true for all the rest of the region. This is the reason we see even closer economic integration between China and the ASEAN economies," Dominguez said.


During the forum, Dominguez reiterated the Philippines' full support for China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which, he said, will open the vast economic potentials of all countries in the region.


"Improved infrastructure will enhance trade among our economies. Enhanced trade will encourage more efficient investment flows. Improved connectivity will enhance the inclusiveness of our growth patterns. We have everything to gain from this."


Dominguez noted that the Philippines also has its version of the BRI dubbed the "Build, Build, Build" program, which involves 100 highly strategic infrastructure projects as well as thousands of infrastructure and logistics improvements all over the country.


This infrastructure modernization strategy, aimed at lowering the Philippines' poverty incidence from 27.6 percent in the first half of 2015 to just 14 percent by 2022, will lower the costs of moving people and goods, bring remote communities closer to the economic mainstream, and "create numerous investment opportunities that will unleash the latent strengths of our economy," he said.


"We are relying on this program to induce internally generated growth that will enable us to expand despite a challenging global environment brought about by protectionist policies in the West," Dominguez said.


Source: Belt and Road Portal