PH, China to speed up implementation of infra projects

BEIJING -- Manila and Beijing have affirmed their commitment to speed up the preparation and processes needed to ensure the timely implementation of the Duterte administration’s flagship infrastructure projects with financial support from China, the Department of Finance (DOF) announced in a statement on Friday.

In a meeting here with People’s Republic of China’s State Councilor and Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi Wednesday night, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the preparation for the projects to be implemented by the Philippines in cooperation with China “have already been moving quite fast ahead,” particularly the South Long Haul Manila-Bicol Railway and the Clark-Subic Railway projects.

“Under the guidance of President (Rodrigo) Duterte, we have been working very hard to achieve both the goals of President Duterte and President Xi Jinping in the development of the relationship between China and the Philippines,” Dominguez said during the meeting.

Wang, for his part, said that “what is needed now (are) specific and concrete actions to move forward (our) practical cooperation across the board.”

“What I hope you and our other friends sitting here today will do is to have more communication with your counterparts so that jointly, we can fully tap the potential of our cooperation,” he said.

Also at the meeting were the other members of the Philippine delegation, among them Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and president-CEO of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) Vivencio Dizon.

Wang said the bilateral relations between the Philippines and China have vastly improved and “entered a fast track of development under the guidance of President Duterte and President Xi.”

“There are many works of cooperation to be advanced. I hope and I believe, through your current visit, we will reach even more consensus and cooperation between our two countries to deliver even greater benefits to the Chinese and Filipino people and make our respective contributions to regional peace and stability,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dominguez said that since President Duterte assumed office, “the relationship (between the two countries) has become very close.”

He informed Wang that the Philippines has “received a lot of investments from your country, as well as tourists have been coming in (from China).”

Wang informed Dominguez and the rest of the Philippine delegation that he and his counterpart, Secretary Cayetano “and our two foreign ministries will coordinate with other respective departments to do as much as we can to foster a sound condition (and) atmosphere for the economic cooperation between our two countries.”

The warm relations between the two countries was restarted when Duterte assumed office in 2016 and had led to rising Chinese investments in the Philippines.

Net foreign direct investment (FDI) from China from January to May this year registered a 534 percent increase over the net FDI from that country for the entire 2017. Total approved investments from China, meanwhile, grew by 57.14 percent over the previous year.

Bilateral trade with China has also increased since 2017, with total trade between the two countries reaching USD13.9 billion in the first half of 2018.

The number of Chinese tourists entering the Philippines hit almost 1 million in 2017. The Philippines’ target for 2018 is to bring in 1.5 million tourists from China. (DOF PR)