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Philippines, China to move forward on investment commitments

MANILA, Philippines – Top Philippine and Chinese officials have agreed to move ahead on, and set up structures of coordination to effectively implement, the investment pledges forged between Manila and Beijing during President Duterte’s successful state visit to China last month.
Economic officials led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, along with Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, met this week with officials of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, just days after President Duterte’s approval of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board’s guidelines on the pre-investment and investment stages of the prospective ventures.
NEDA Deputy Director General Rolando Tungpalan gave a brief overview of the guidelines during the meeting.
“I think this afternoon we have laid the ground work on moving ahead and we should continue this dialogue with specific projects in mind,” Dominguez said at the meeting.
Led by NDRC Deputy Chairman Ning Jizhe, the Chinese officials reiterated Beijing’s full support for President Duterte’s 10-point socio-economic agenda and their keen interest in investing in, among others, the fields of energy, tourism, technology and infrastructure, particularly in the construction of railways and bridges.
The NDRC is China’s chief planning and strategy agency.
“We have been informed of the 10-point economic agenda. On our side we have the One-Road One-Belt Initiative by President Xi Jinping and we hope that both sides can encourage these plans and encourage Chinese business to invest in the Philippines,” Deputy Chairman Ning said during the meeting.
Ning said the purpose of their visit was to discuss in detail, and implement, the Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) signed between Manila and Beijing during President Duterte’s visit, particularly those on Investment Cooperation and on Transport Infrastructure.
These MOUs were signed by NEDA and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Department of Transportation (DOTr) on behalf of the Philippines.
“Developing the economy and promoting people’s livelihood will be the foundation of our governments’ cooperation,” Ning said.
In the meeting, Dominguez informed the NDRC delegation that President Duterte, as chairperson of the NEDA Board, already instructed the Investment CoordinationCommittee to ensure “good and close coordination” with the NDRC in executing the areas of economic cooperation between the Philippines and China.
“We want to do the best both for the Filipino people and the Chinese taxpayers. We want to make sure that the benefits go to the people who need it and the resources of the Chinese people, through the Chinese government, being made available to us will not be wasted,” Dominguez said.
The officials from both sides agreed to hold an investors conference sometime next year to discuss possible projects, after the Philippine government will have submitted its proposed ventures that are seen to benefit the most from Chinese technology and expertise.
To speed up the pre-investment process, Dominguez committed to provide the Chinese embassy with a list of such possible projects by December 1.
Besides Ning, the other NDRC officials present at the meeting were Li Xuedong, Deputy Director General of the Department of International Cooperation; Zhen Chiping, Deputy Director General of the Department of Foreign Capital and Overseas Investment; Zhen Jian, Deputy Director General of the Department of Basic Industries; Hua Zhong, Director of the General Office; Chen Shuai, Director of the Department of International Cooperation and Hu Fang, Deputy Director of the Department of International Cooperation; Hu Jianwu, Director of the Department of International Cooperation of National Energy Administration; and Tang Tang, Third Secretary of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
They were accompanied by Charge d’ Affaires He Xiangqi and other Chinese Embassy officials.
The Philippine side was represented by Dominguez, Villar, Cayetano, Tungpalan, DPWH Undersecretary Karen Jimeno and Bases Conversion and Development Authority President & CEO Vivencio Dizon.
Assistant Secretaries Maria Edita Tan, Paola Alvarez and Mark Dennis Joven of the Department of Finance, and Director Robert Ferrer from the Department of Foreign Affairs were also present at the meeting.
Describing the MOUs as “good frameworks of cooperation” between the two countries, Ning said his instructions from China was to “bring these MOUs to reality.”
During Mr. Duterte’s state visit, Dominguez signed three agreements on behalf of the Philippines.
These included the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation, which provides Manila with a RMB Yuan 100 million grant to implement projects for “anti-illegal drugs and law enforcement security cooperation,” and the MOU Supporting the Conduct of Feasibility Studies for Major Projects, in which China will provide financing support to the Philippines in undertaking feasibility studies for big-ticket projects in infrastructure, agriculture and rural development.
The third MOU signed by Dominguez during the President’s China trip was on Financing Cooperation with the Export-Import Bank of China (China EXIM), which would allow the Philippines to tap China EXIM funds for its major projects through the usual approval processes.
Given China’s impressive achievement in lifting its people out of poverty, Dominguez said he is confident that it would be of great assistance to the Philippines if China would be able to share its technologies in the fields of land and sea infrastructure, energy, irrigation and flood control.
In the meeting, Villar said the DPWH would like to study China’s modern technologies in building long-span bridges and high-speed highways.
“The DPWH is very excited that China is so willing to share their technical expertise with us and that China will provide capacity building,” Villar said. “There are no major high speed highways in Luzon and the Visayas and that’s something we can work with your country to improve together,” Villar added.
In response, Ning said China “can provide an enabling environment to carry out cooperation and share the experience on how to further develop infrastructure.”
Cayetano, for his part, informed the NDRC delegation that the Philippines is “grateful that the Chinese are willing to help us with all kinds of assistance.”

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.