China is PH’s top trading partner in 2020: envoy

By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

January 19, 2021, 6:40 pm

<p>President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian. <em>(PNA File Photo)</em></p>

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian. (PNA File Photo)

MANILA – Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian on Tuesday said their economic and trade cooperation with the Philippines “achieved tangible results” in 2020 despite the challenges brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

In a recorded statement, Huang said the economic cooperation between China and the Philippines has created not only a large number of jobs for Filipinos but is also promoting the economic recovery of the Philippines as it strives to “become an upper-middle-income economy by 2022”.

He said China remained the largest trading partner and source of imports in the first 10 months of 2020 and the second-largest export market of the Philippines.

“The Philippine monthly exports to China in September and October increased by 43.3 percent and 12.7 percent year-on-year respectively, showing a sound momentum of growth,” Huang said.

He noted that the first batch of Philippine avocados arrived in Shanghai in March, making the Philippines the first Asian country to export avocados in China, followed by Chinese buyers signing a letter of intent to purchase fruits worth up to USD200 million with Philippine companies during the Third Import Expo.

Other noteworthy investments in the Philippines by Chinese companies, he said, include the USD7-billion partnership of China Telecom with Dito Telecommunity—with more than 3,000 base stations under construction.

“The construction of the backbone and access trunk optical cables stretches over 13,000 kilometers,” Huang said.

He said the Panhua Group, one of the top private enterprises in China, is also investing USD3.5 billion to build a steel plant in the Philippines and is seen to upgrade the country’s steel industry aside from creating 10,000 direct jobs and 20,000 indirect jobs for Filipinos.

To date, he said the two countries have also completed 11 government-to-government cooperation projects on drug control, anti-terrorism, food security, radio, and television services, among other fields.

“Twelve projects are under implementation, in which the Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology-Technical Cooperation Program Phase III, two China-aid bridges project over the Pasig River and the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project is expected to be completed by the end of this year,” Huang said.

On Monday, Huang confirmed that half a million doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be donated to the Philippines by the Chinese government.

He said the Philippine government is closely discussing vaccine procurement with Sinovac, with the first batch of 50,000 doses of vaccines to arrive in the country before the end of February. (PNA)