THE PHILIPPINES is gearing up to secure additional funding support from China for local infrastructure projects, with the two economies enjoying deeper investment ties amid growing “mutual trust.”
The economic team of President Rodrigo R. Duterte flew to Beijing last week for a series of meetings with Chinese officials, where the two parties explored opportunities for increased economic interaction.
Bilateral ties are expected to improve further with “political mutual trust continuously increasing,” Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan was quoted as saying in a statement sent by the Department of Finance (DoF).
Mr. Zhong added that there is “enormous room” for further cooperation, which has significantly expanded after Mr. Duterte’s October 2016 visit to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
China has been among the biggest sources of official development assistance (ODA) for the Philippines’ “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure pipeline.
Chinese officials said there are more opportunities lined up under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Mr. Duterte is set to attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in April, the DoF said.
“We look forward to implementing more strategic infrastructure projects supported by highly concessional financing from China,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in the statement.
So far, the Philippines has secured Chinese credit for four construction projects. These are the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon Bridges that involve a $63.13-million grant, $52.09-million ODA financing for the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project and $211.21 million for the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam project.
Moreover, the Subic-Clark Railway Project in Luzon, Mindanao Railway Project, Davao-Samal Bridge Project and the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Interisland Bridge Project are being considered for Chinese funding.
Last week’s visit to Beijing also included a non-deal investor road show plus a Philippine Economic Briefing before some 500 prospective investors there.
Filipino businessmen accompanying Philippine government officials for a fresh pitch to Chinese investors included Jollibee Foods Corp. Chairman Tony Tan Caktiong; GT Capital Holdings, Inc. Vice-Chairman Alfred V. Ty; LT Group, Inc. President Michael G. Tan and Udenna Corp. Chairman Dennis A. Uy, according to the government’s Investor Relations Office. — Melissa Luz T. Lopez