By Genalyn Kabiling
BEIJING — At least 19 trade and investment deals worth US$12.165 billion have been secured by the Philippines during President Duterte’s fourth visit to China.
The business deals covering energy, infrastructure, telecommunications, food, sale of agricultural products, tourism, economic zone, and industrial park development, are expected to generate 21,165 jobs for the country, according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.
The agreements, involving Filipino and Chinese companies buoyed by business opportunities back home, were signed in the presence of President Duterte on the sidelines of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.
“The Duterte administration is pushing for investments on energy and manufacturing for the Philippines to broaden its manufacturing base and increase its exports. Among the agreements are energy projects that will help the country decrease its dependence on oil and gas imports,” Lopez said.
“There will also be several industrial parks to bring jobs to Filipinos in the countryside,” he added. Lopez has attributed the Chinese investor confidence to the country’s steady economic growth, the nation’s demographic sweet spot, and President Duterte’s policies on peace and order.
“The country is growing fast over 6 percent growth sustained for the past 15 quarters consecutively.
It’s really a good indication of a fast-growing economy,” the trade chief said in a media interview.
“They know the demographic sweet spot that we have right now, over 107 million Filipinos. It keeps on growing.
There’s a growing middle class,” he added. Lopez said the President has also assured the business community about promoting the ease of doing business “in other words, there’s no corruption, no difficulty in doing business.”
He said Duterte has also asked investors to report any complaints of corruption or delays in the processing of their permits.
He said the businessmen have also valued the “much improved” peace and order situation in the Philippines, citing the government’s campaign against illegal drugs and criminality.
“It’s a big help that they see the President supporting the business environment.
Our President said the Philippines is open for business, you are expected to make money also as investors.
He’s not against making profits,” he said.
He said Duterte, however, asked the businessmen to employ more Filipinos.
“For every job that is created, you are lifting a life out of poverty. That’s the mandate from the President,” he said.
He also cited that Chinese President Xi Jinping has also assured support in helping the Philippine economy through more trade and investments.
Lopez made clear that the West Philippine Sea issue has not been a concern for the Chinese businessmen in the country.
“We don’t see any concern of that sort. It’s not even raised in the meetings. They really look at the business opportunities in the country,” he said.
Among the agreements signed were one contract agreement, three cooperation agreements, two purchase framework agreements, and 13 Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) or Understanding (MOU).
Of the new business deals, the biggest is the memorandum of understanding between Tranzen and China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd for US$4 billion construction of the LRT in Manila, housing, and roads in North Luzon.
These projects are expected to generate 1,000 jobs. The four energy deals are the following: – A $800-million contract agreement on the construction of ad 250MW South Pulangi Hydroelectric Power Plant Project in Damulog, Bukidnon.
The project, to be developed by Pulangi Hydro Power Corporation and China Energy Co Ltd, aims to improve power supply reliability and resilience in the country, particularly in Mindanao.
It will create 5,000 jobs. – A framework agreement between Tranzen Group and China Power Investment Holding for thermal, hydro, and renewable power plants.
The energy projects, amounting between US$ 1.5 to $2 billion, is expected to create 1,000 jobs. – A memorandum of understanding between the Davao Occidental local government and Fengyuan Holdings for a US$ 1.5 billion petrochemical refinery processing plant complex in Tubalan Cove Business and Industrial Park.
The project will generate 500 jobs. – A memorandum of understanding among the Department of Energy, Shanghai Electric Group Co Ltd, and Deluxe Family Co Ltd for the US$ 40 million collaboration and the promotion of the use of indigenous, new, and renewable energy resources on infrastructure and telecoms, a memorandum of understanding between Tranzen and CITIC Guoan Information Technology for a US$ 500 million project to build infrastructure for nationwide Wi-Fi Internet connectivity in various capital cities and towns in the Philippines.
The project will create 1,000 jobs.
The two agricultural deals are the purchase framework agreement of Philpack Corporation to supply US$ 40 million-worth of pineapples to Chinese company Goodfarmer Foods Holding Group as well as another purchase agreement for Eng Seng Food Products to supply US$ 36.5 million-worth of green coconuts to China Artex Corporation. Six MOUs were signed between the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) and several Chinese companies develop the economic zone.
Among these projects are the US$ 150 million CEZA Asparas yacht club, a US$ 500 million green textile industry park, a US$ 500 million expansion of the Cagayan North International Airport, a US$ 100 million fintech hub and financial center, a US$ 500 million smart city, and US$ 150 million for various projects including a resort and theme park and lithium battery manufacturing plant.
A $1.5 billion framework agreement between the Pampanga local government and Chinese firm Macrolink Group has also been signed to build and develop the Yatai Industrial Park, estimated to create 10,000 jobs.
Also inked was the $298-million framework agreement between GFTG Property Holdings and Sanya CEDF Sino-Philippine Investment Corporation to develop Grande and Chiquita Islands under the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.
The project is expected to create 500 to 1,000 jobs.
A memorandum of understanding between Adnama Mining Resource, Inc., Fu Properties Inc, and Xiamen C&D Incorporation was also forged to build a $50 million iron processing plant in Agusan Del Norte.
The Philippine International Overseas Management System Inc. and Guofa Major Project Management Co. Ltd also finalized a memorandum of understanding to train and introduce Filipino domestic helpers to China.
Another memorandum of understanding to establish the Silk Road International Development Fund was also signed between Philippines Silk Road Holdings Inc. and the Silk Road International Development Fund Ltd.
On top of these new agreements, Lopez said AAC Technologies is interested to expand operations in the Philippines.
The company plans to invest US$ 30 million to engage in stepper motor and motor reducer manufacturing and create 3,000 jobs in the next three years