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.
Tags: Roni Santiago