DAVAO CITY — Chinese delegations from the cities of Jinjiang and Nanning have arrived in the city more than a week ahead of the Davao Investment Conference 2019 (Davao ICON 2019) slated on June 20 to 21 to look into possible areas of collaboration.

Consul General Li Lin of the Chinese Consulate General in Davao said they are here early “to promote economic cooperation, especially on the local government level.”

Davao City has sisterhood agreements with the two Chinese cities.

“They want to make suggestions of the joint efforts with the city… If they want to make a good suggestion, they need to understand better the city’s plans for the future. They can share their expertise, especially their experiences that they have researched,” Mr. Li told BusinessWorld.

Another delegation, both from the government and business sector, will also be attending the biennial Davao ICON, he added.

Among the business ventures being considered are food processing and a cardboard box plant.

Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, during her trip to Jinjiang late last year, highlighted potential collaboration in the food industry, which she said will benefit farmers.

Ms. Carpio, along with representatives from the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII), visited the Pam Pam Group, a food processing enterprise.

Mr. Li said the Pam Pam Group president will also be visiting Davao.

Meanwhile, leaders of foreign business chambers have also been actively helping to attract participants to the Davao ICON 2019.

Antonio S. Peralta, president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP)-Southern Mindanao, said they have been undertaking a “proactive approach” in promoting the event amid advisories imposed by various embassies against travel to Mindanao.

“It is taking the first step in a more proactive approach. Through this conference, we hope to correct that mindset. We have a number of business delegations coming from the European Chamber in Manila that have shown interest in participating, and in fact a number of them are first timers,” Mr. Peralta said.

Some ECCP members from Cotabato City will also be attending the conference for the first time.

“I can see greater inclusivity of approach,” he said, noting that DCCCII, which organizes the Davao ICON, has invited speakers who will highlight experiences in doing business in Davao and Mindanao as a whole.

Mr. Peralta said European businessmen, along with Canadians and Japanese, will also share their own experiences on the ground.

Ichido Miyake, president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce in Mindanao, said a delegation of at least 40 are expected to join the Davao ICON, with an eye on potential ventures in information technology, tourism, agriculture and real estate.

“These are really potential investors,” said Mr. Miyake.

John Carlo B. Tria, DCCCII executive vice-president and vice-chair of the event, said they are optimistic that they will surpass the 700 delegates in 2017.

“We have a high level of inquiries right after the (May 13) elections, but prior to the election many people were already e-mailing us,” he said.

Mr. Tria said one of the particular sectors they want to push is attracting young foreign entrepreneurs who are technologically adept and more open to exploring ventures outside of their country. — Maya M. Padillo and Carmelito Q. Francisco