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3 major China-PH projects  starting



Three  major  China-Philippines  projects  took off in the closing months  of 2019 – the start of the Reed Bank  joint  gas and oil development west of Palawan,  President  Duterte’s directive to proceed  with the P12.2-billion  Kaliwa Dam project  in Rizal and Quezon, and the roll-off of the P175-billion 650-kilometer South Rail Long Haul project  in Bicol.

These  are  three  of the projects  funded  by grants and loans from China.  These grants  totaled  $398 million in 2019,  with $400 million more expected  in  2022. These  are  on  top of  $500 million in soft loans granted for 2020 and planned in succeeding  years.

The year 2019 also saw a surge in the two  countries’  trade  relations. China became the Philippines’ top trading  partner  last year with $49.8 billion in the first three quarters of the year, with  expectations  of exceeding the $50-billion  threshold by the end of the year.  The Philippines’ world  banana exports,  in particular, rose to $495 million, with China as the top buyer.

The  increase in bilateral trade has been matched by increased investments.  More  than  40 major Chinese  enterprises  have invested in the  Philippines, in the process employing 26,000 Filipinos.  On still another front, tourism, Chinese visitors  neared 1.5 million in 2019

In 2020, the two countries will be celebrating  the  45th year  of  establishment of  diplomatic  ties. China also plans to open its economy this year,  boosting  global growth, especially now that iI has reached the first phase of an agreement with the United States, ending their 20-month trade war.

Aside from  Reed Bank, Kaliwa Dam, and  South Rail,  other new projects under “Package  2” are due to start,  including the Mindanao Railway,  the Davao Expressway, and the Iloilo-Guimaras-Negros bridge.  This may  yet be  the biggest year  in Philippine-Chinese economic relations.



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