PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte left for Beijing Wednesday to attend the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, where he is also expected to meet business leaders to explore ways to enhance “two-way trade and investments.”

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte leaves for Beijing today for the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation from 25 to 27 April upon the invitation of President Xi Jinping,” the Palace said in a statement on Wednesday.

Mr. Duterte, prior to the forum, will meet with Mr. Xi and Premier Li Keqiang “to take stock of key developments in bilateral relations and regional affairs,” according to the Palace.

“Immediately after their meeting, Premier Li will host dinner for President Duterte. The President is one of select leaders who will meet President Xi and Premier Li separately and will be honored with a dinner,” it added.

Also prior to the forum, Mr. Duterte will likewise “meet Filipino and Chinese business leaders to explore ways of further enhancing two-way trade and investments.”

The Palace noted that Mr. Duterte’s participation at the forum “reaffirms the Philippines’ commitment to work with partners in the region to further enhance regional connectivity and economic integration in order to advance the country’s development agenda and sustain regional growth and development.”

“The President, together with over 35 leaders and heads of international organizations, will discuss, among others, how to boost connectivity, further strengthen policy synergy and build closer partnerships, and promote green and sustainable development. The Forum is an opportunity for the Philippines to explore synergies on connectivity initiatives. This includes projects under the BRI, and the country’s Build, Build, Build and other development programs,” the Palace said.

At a news conference at the Palace on Monday, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Meynardo LB. Montealegre said at least five bilateral agreements between the Philippines and China are expected to be signed during Mr. Duterte’s visit.

“Well, we are looking at some possible agreements in the areas of education, anti-corruption, official development assistance, as well as drug rehabilitation. But [these are] in the final stages of consultations,” he said, adding that a bilateral agreement on infrastructure development may also be signed.

He said there will be “at least 11 connectivity forums and the various economic ministers and other leaders of the Philippines were invited.”

“For instance, in the policy connectivity (forum), Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia of NEDA (National Economic Development Authority) will be participating together with the Chairman and CEO of Philippine Airlines; as far as financial connectivity is concerned, DoF (Department of Finance) Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III will be participating as well as the President and CEO of the Banco de Oro,” Mr. Montealegre said. — Arjay L. Balinbin