PH, China optimistic of reaching trade targets
MANILA, Philippines — Despite disputes over overlapping maritime claims in the South China Sea and the deadly coronavirus disease pandemic, the Philippines and China are determined to meet their trade targets this year, the ambassadors from both countries said on Friday.
“Despite the disruption in the early part of the year, things are picking up now and, hopefully, we’ll be able to equal if not surpass trade performance last year,” Philippine Ambassador Jose Santiago “Chito” Santa Romana told a radio interview.
Santa Romana said there was growing demand not only for Philippine bananas but for other tropical fruits such as pineapples, avocados, and young coconuts, as the Chinese public become more health conscious amid the pandemic.
The ambassador said 60 percent of banana supplies in China came from the Philippines. Last year, China imported $600 million worth of bananas from the Philippines.
He pointed that China remains among the world’s top consumer markets and, having largely controlled the pandemic, “it may be the only major economy that will have a positive growth for this year.”
Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian, who was interviewed in the same radio program, said negotiations were ongoing for the establishment of a “green channel” or “green corridor,” an express or fast lane for cargo to ensure that imports and exports of both countries arrive on time.
Huang also said he hoped Manila would soon remove travel restrictions against Chinese engineers and management staff assisting in Chinese-backed construction projects under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
As for the maritime disputes, Huang said that as neighboring countries, it was “very normal” for the Philippines and China to have “some differences” but there were bilateral mechanisms to sort out conflicts.
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