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Trade and business take center stage during Duterte's visit to China


10-20-2016 12:19 BJT

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says common interests are the focus of his four-day visit to China -- not the territorial dispute in the South China Sea -- but trade and business.  Let's see how better ties can benefit both countries' economies. 

Through the ups and downs of the relationship between China and the Philippines, Chinese appliance giant TCL's business in the Philippines hasn't just survived, it's thrived. Ironically, the best years have been during the height of the South China Sea territorial dispute.

"To be honest, from my observation, although there are some issues between the two nations, two countries, but in the citizens, I think no big problem. + The population in the Philippines is 100 million, so the customer demand is huge. That is a real big market you cannot ignore," TCL Philippines CEO Eason Cai said.

And now, TCL might just get an even bigger boost from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's visit to China this week. Hundreds of Filipino business leaders have joined Duterte on his trip in what is clearly interest in doing business in China... and vice-versa.

"I think China will ultimately need Filipino labor. And the Filipino can really supply labor to China. And of course the Philippines will also need China, as I said, to buy Filipino products, bring in more tourists to the Philippines, and giving soft loans maybe for infrastructure," Henry Lim Bon Liong, Federation of Filipino-Chineses Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said.

All of which appear to already be done or are in the works. China has ended a ban on fruit imports from the Philippines. Its ambassador to the Philippines says China will also be lifting a travel warning issued in 2014. President Duterte has publicly conveyed his wish to get China to put up high speed railways in the country.

While there's no question more Chinese investments will benefit the Philippines, Western investors have expressed concern that Duterte's anti-West rhetoric and alleged extrajudicial killings may have thrown some investment plans into limbo. Duterte has dismissed these concerns, however, saying China can fill the gap.

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