PH, China aim to balance trade in next 3 to 4 years

By Kris Crismundo

March 15, 2018, 4:51 pm

MANILA -- Government officials of the Philippines and China said the two countries aim to balance their trade within the Duterte administration.

On the sidelines of the China International Import Expo (CIIE) Information Mission here Thursday, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez told reporters that balancing the trade between the Philippines and China is possible in the next three to four years, assuming that the good relation and cooperative stance of the two countries continue.

China is the top trading partner of the Philippines in 2017 with bilateral trade amounting to USD23.7 billion, increasing by 8 percent from USD21.9 billion in 2016, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed.

But Philippine exports to China amounted to USD6.9 billion while imports valued at USD16.8 billion in 2017, leaving the Philippines with a trade deficit of USD9.9 billion.

Lopez said the country was close to balancing its trade with China around 2010, but some developments between Manila and Beijing in 2011, particularly due to dispute in the West Philippines Sea, made China to import less from the Philippines.

The DTI chief said trade deficit further ballooned until the Duterte administration took office in 2016.

Likewise, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said it would take some time for the two countries to balance their trade since the production capacity of China is larger than the Philippines.

But Zhao said both the Chinese and the Philippine governments “will work for it” to balance trade between the two countries within the Duterte administration.

The Chinese envoy noted that there is an enormous potential for Philippine enterprises and exporters to supply the demand of the 1.4-billion population of China, which gross domestic product per capita jumped to USD8,000 in 2017.

“China is going to further open up our market, open up our economy and we’re going to prosper together with all our trading partners, including the Philippines,” said Zhao.

He said one of the initiatives of Chinese President Xi Jinping to open up China’s market is the country’s hosting of the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) on Nov. 5 to 10, 2018 in Shanghai.

The CIIE will be the only expo in China to feature foreign exhibitors, with no Chinese companies in the expo to offer their products or services.

But around 150,000 buyers, mostly Chinese buyers, are expected to visit the CIIE for them to scout potential partners to bring in products and services to China.

Zhao said this initiative can help increase Philippine exports to China.

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Chairman Emeritus Francis Chua noted that the CIIE highlights the growing demand for China to import products and services.

China eyes to import USD5 trillion worth of goods and services worldwide within a five-year period. (PNA)