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China-Philippines trade ties warm up as cooperation strengthens


03-08-2017 08:37 BJT

Trade officials from China and the Philippines have announced that China is financing at least three infrastructure projects in the Philippines worth 3.4-billion US dollars this year.

Trade ties between China and the Philippines had an official rebirth on Tuesday through the Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation. It was last convened in 2011, before tensions between China and the Philippines reached new heights over territorial issues in the South China Sea. But since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office more than eight months ago, the relationship between the two countries has seen a 180-degree turn. Case in point - Tuesday's bilateral meeting did not only have the Philippines' Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez in attendance. China's new Commerce Minister Zhong Shan flew in to grace the event here in Manila.

"With the new minister, we definitely believe that it will be a much stronger relationship between our country and China moving forward especially after a very productive and fruitful discussion we had in the JCETC," Ramon said.

In October last year, President Duterte visited Beijing and went home with some 24 billion US dollars in investment pledges. In addition, China committed to helping the Philippines develop the country's lagging infrastructure. On Tuesday, Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez revealed some of the projects that could see construction start this year - these include dams, bridges and a long-awaited railway from Manila to central Philippine provinces. And these, Lopez said, are just the tip of the iceberg.

"The DTI foresees a more meaningful engagement with China as a good neighbor in the coming years as we work with renewed vigor towards a deepened and strengthened cooperation based on mutual values, goals and results," Ramon said.

Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan echoed the same optimism, saying both countries are now enjoying renewed dynamism and vitality, and that there is still so much trade and investment potential to realize.

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