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Friday, December 15, 2017

Bilateral talks set on $24-B China economic pledge to PH

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By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The  Philippines and China will conduct a follow-up meeting this week on the long list of projects and investments worth $24 billion committed by the Chinese government to the Duterte administration.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said he will hold bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart as one of his sideline meetings on the occasion of the ongoing 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings here. The 5-day AEM kicked off Thursday at the Marriott Hotel, and will end on Monday, Sept. 11.

According to Lopez, the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) of both countries will hold a follow through on the long list of projects committed by the Chinese government during President Duterte’s visit to Beijing last year.

Of the $24-billion total economic package, $9 billion are in the form of official development assistance (ODA) funds from the Chinese government and the bulk of $15 billion will come in the form of infrastructure projects, letters of credit, or infrastructure projects by the Chinese government or the Chinese private sector.

The JEC meeting is expected to discuss the status of project implementation, particularly the $9-billion official development assistance (ODA).

For instance, he cited the construction of the two bridges in Metro Manila which are part of the $9-billion ODA funds from the Chinese government.

The Chinese government has committed to spend R3.6 billion for the construction of two Pasig River bridges – Estrella-Pantaleon and Binondo-Intramuros.  The Department of Public Works and Highways is the implementing agency for the two projects, which are envisioned to become “iconic” bridges to symbolize the solid friendship between the two countries.

On top of that, the Chinese government is spending P364 million for the establishment of two drug rehabilitation centers in the country, one of which maybe located in Mindanao.

The JEC was reconvened last year after an 11-year hiatus. Relations between the Philippines and China have warmed up following a soft stance adopted by President Duterte on the territorial dispute against China.

Also, both countries held its meeting for the 28th Joint Commission Economic Trade Cooperation prior to Duterte’s visit to Beijing last year.

Chinese businessmen already expressed confidence in the Philippines.  At least five Chinese companies already presented their Letters of Intent to the Board of Investments, signifying their keen interest in further exploring business opportunities in the country’s aviation, oil downstream, renewable energy, iron and steel, and shipbuilding/ship repair industries.

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