Relations with Philippines offer fertile ground for cooperation, joint economic benefit

By Wang Jiamei Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/16 23:18:39

The Sino-Philippine relationship has entered a new stage of mutual benefit, with fruitful results achieved in pragmatic cooperation in multiple fields.

After a meeting in Manila on Wednesday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte witnessed the signing of 14 cooperation agreements on infrastructure financing, bridge construction, bond issues, drug rehabilitation, climate change, intellectual property protection and industrial capacity cooperation, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The two leaders also announced the start of work for two river bridges in Manila, which are expected to ease the capital's severe traffic jams.

Even before the signing ceremony, the Philippine Department of Finance  said earlier this week that China had promised about $7.34 billion in loans and grants to the Philippines for infrastructure projects and other programs, The Philippine Star reported.

These developments highlight the warming ties between the two countries, which is conducive to the fundamental interests of both countries and their people. China has become the largest trade partner of the Philippines: it is the country's largest importer and the fourth-largest export destination.

As Southeast Asian countries recovered from the global financial crisis and returned to rapid development in recent years, the Philippine economy also recorded fast growth. The country's GDP grew faster than expected (6.9 percent during the third quarter), the ninth consecutive quarter of growth above 6 percent.

Given the country's grand infrastructure plan and a series of reforms, the Duterte administration aims to reach annual growth rates of 7 percent to 8 percent over the next six years, according to media reports.

The Philippines needs to improve and expand its infrastructure to provide essential support for rapid economic development. That's the exact area where China can be of much help, indicating great economic complementarities in terms of cooperation in such fields as transportation, telecommunications and agriculture.

Moreover, from the perspective of national strategy, the Philippines' "Build, Build, Build" infrastructure development initiative is also highly compatible with the China-proposed Belt and Road (B&R) initiative. It can be expected that projects under both initiatives can develop faster and thus improve the Philippines' infrastructure and living standards substantially.

As for China, the enhanced relationship with the Philippines allows it to better carry out international production capacity cooperation and push forward with the B&R initiative.

As the Philippine economy grows, it will also be a big potential market for China.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: EYE ON THE ECONOMY

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