GUANGXI, China — Philippine officials showcased the province of Tarlac as the country’s “city of charm” during the 15th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO), which opened Wednesday at the Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Center (NICEC).
In her speech in front of Chinese investors, Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Nora Terrado said Tarlac is a “progressive and promising province that encapsulates in a single location a sustainable and globally competitive agriculture sector, industrial developments and attractive tourist destinations.”
Tarlac Governor Susan Yap, meanwhile, said aside from being the country’s home of sugar and rice, Tarlac is a promising province that has sustainable and globally competitive agriculture, industrial development, and tourist destination.
“We hope to partner with you in developing harmonious cooperation between our countries. With your help, we shall be able to achieve global competitiveness linking business opportunity, eco-tourism, and investment promotion development for the progress of our country,” Yap said.
Terrado, meanwhile, also introduced the Philippines’ seven investment promotion agencies (IPA) in the expo — the Bureau of Investment (BOI), Clark Development Corporation (CDC), Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), Mt. Samat Flagship Tourism Enterprise Zone (FTEZ), Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA), Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), and the Tourism Infrastructure and Economic Zone Authority (TIEZA).
More than 2,700 exhibitors from the ASEAN and China are participating in the expo themed “Jointly Building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Forging the China-ASEAN Community of Innovation.”
This year’s expo features exhibitions of the 10 ASEAN countries and Tanzania, as the special guest country, in the field of various products centered on artificial intelligence, building a smart city, and upholding environmental protection.
Forums and exchange programs will focus on innovations.
Biggest Pinoy products, services
After 13 years of joining in the CAEXPO, this year marks another milestone for the Philippines as it presents its biggest and boldest delegation so far — with 70 companies from the food, home and fashion, services, and health and wellness sectors.
This is also the first time that the country’s commodity pavilion managed to occupy an entire hall space in the expo.
According to Terrado, China has emerged as the country’s top trading partner in 2017, the first full year of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, with total bilateral trade valued at USD25.48 billion, recording an increase from USD21.9 billion in 2016.
2017 also marked the first time that the Philippines shipped a huge amount of sugar to China.
“The Philippines also recorded an increase of 50 percent in fruit exports to China last year, particularly bananas, and pineapple ever since the ban was lifted in 2016. In tourism, the two countries have witnessed booming exchange of people as China now stands as the second largest origin of tourists travelling to the Philippines. Each week, there are around 300 flights shutting between Chinese and Philippines cities,” Terrado added.
Pauline Suaco-Juan, Executive Director of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), took the exhibit as another step closer in building a better trade and investment relationship between the Philippines and China, as well as with other Southeast Asian countries.
“It has always been a strategic platform to showcase what the Philippines can offer to the world from our lucrative investment packages to our premier export products from various sectors. These are among the many milestones that have made Philippine companies in the food and other sectors bullish on the renewed prospect in the Chinese market,” Suaco-Juan said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Francis Chua, Honorary Chairman and Director for Internal Trade Affairs of Philippine Chamber Commerce and Industry (PCCI), also attended the 2018 CAEXPO.
He is one of the entrepreneurs tasked to create a business association for China-ASEAN countries, a first in the expo.
“I am here to form China-ASEAN Entrepreneur Confederation. It is the very first time the businessmen will be group together to join the Chinese government in pursuing the business activities, opportunities to the sear of the economy,” he said.
“Today, we are going to form that and we will talk about the organization later today, especially about the agriculture, how are we going to proceed, that is the main topic we will talk about today,” he added.
The 15th China-ASEAN Expo will run until September 15. It is co-sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the 10 ASEAN member states as well as the ASEAN Secretariat, and is organized by the People’s Government of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. (PNA)