Philippines, China trade grows despite row
Despite the diplomatic spat over conflicting claims on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), trade between the Philippines and China grew 32 percent in the first 10 months of the year, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Monday.
Citing a report from the Philippine Embassy in Beijing, the DFA said the growth in trade signaled “the continuing robustness of the bilateral economic relations amid weaknesses in the global economy.”
General Administration of China statistics showed that total trade between the two countries reached $26 billion (about P1.14 trillion) in the first 10 months of 2011, a rise of 31.69 percent over the same period last year.
Embassy Charge d’affaires Alex G. Chua welcomed the figures “as an indication of the strength, resilience and potential of the trade and economic ties between the two countries.”
“The momentum is positive and encouraging for both sides, especially as both countries aim to meet the $60-billion trade goal by 2016, which was set jointly by President Benigno Aquino III and Chinese President Hu Jintao in September during Mr. Aquino’s visit to China,” Chua said.
He said the embassy was confident the current trend could be sustained under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)-China Free Trade (Acfta) regime.”
From January to October this year, Philippine exports to China topped $14.6 billion (about P639 billion) while Chinese exports to the Philippines totaled $11.4 billion (about P499 billion), expanding by 21 percent and 50 percent, respectively.
At present, trade between the two countries is dominated by electronic and electrical products, industrial parts, nickel and copper, liquefied petroleum gas, fertilizer and ceramics.
Chua said Philippine agricultural and agri-processed products, furniture, iron and steel, and logistics-related goods had also made headway in the Chinese market, but exporters had been advised to continue to tap other opportunities what with China’s fast-rising income and consumption levels and rapid urbanization.
He said Filipino producers stood to gain “immense benefits” from the free trade and economic agreements between Asean and China.
Over the past few years, the Asean countries as a group had become among China’s top trading partners, with Asean exports to China growing at astronomical rates. China is the Philippines’ third biggest trading partner.
Philippine-China trade reached its highest level in 2007, with $30.6 billion, before contracting in the next two years as a result of the global financial crisis.
The recovery in bilateral trade beginning in 2010 and a possibly strong finish this year augur well for the two countries’ economic relationship, which is also seeing steady expansion in key sectors like tourism, investment and development assistance.
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