By Lara Climaco | FilAm Star Correspondent
CEOs of Chinese multinationals joined a delegation to Manila led by the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC), which is batting for direct links between Chinese and Filipino entrepreneurs along with their counterparts elsewhere in ASEAN to explore opportunities as part of a “joint club”.
“I bring a number of Chinese entrepreneurs with me and the mission of our delegation is to seek cooperation and opportunities in the Philippines, including investments and business cooperation,” Gao Yunlong, ACFIC chairman and vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, was quoted in a press release issued by the Department of Finance (DoF).
The Chinese delegation met with Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III late last month.
ACFIC was described as a civil society organization counting 44,000 local-level business chambers or organizations as members, which altogether account for 47 million members.
The private companies comprising ACFIC were said to account for the bulk of China’s job generation and technological innovation, about 50 percent of the country’s tax revenues and 60 percent of its GDP.
Top executives of Melco International Development, whose subsidiary operates City of Dreams Manila; Shanghai MicroPort Medical, Holley, Wanda, YuTian, JuneYao, SANY, Zhengbang, Zhongqi Holding and of Hebei Construction were part of the delegation. These are mostly Chinese multinationals with interests spanning aerospace and aviation, agriculture, energy, property development and pharmaceuticals.
Aside from being officers of ACFIC, the CEOs in the delegation also represented business chambers from Shanghai, Jiangxi, Shandong, Guizhou and Hunan in China.
Dominguez invited the group to explore investments in private housing, food production and retail, manufacturing and tourism.
“Tourism investment is also very important for us and we want to partner up (with) Chinese entrepreneurs in tourism business because the Chinese entrepreneurs know what the Chinese tourists are looking for,” Dominguez was quoted in the DoF press release.
China overtook the United States as the second biggest tourism market of the Philippines last year, with arrivals growing by 43 percent to hit nearly 1 million, according to data from the Department of Tourism.
Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) ranked China as the fourth largest importer of Philippine products for 2017. Total trade between China and the Philippines grew by 12 percent over the past five years, with Chinese imports still outpacing the growth of exports from the Philippines.
The DTI wants to reverse this trend by raising the visibility of Philippine products and services in China. It is gearing up for a major event this coming November, particularly the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) to be held in Shanghai. CIIE is said to feature only foreign exhibitors where buyers from China and all over the world will be present.
According to the DTI, Chinese imports of goods and services will be in the vicinity of $10 trillion in the coming years.
Ties between China and the Philippines have been established from top government echelons down to the level of small- and medium-sized enterprises, a development that is largely credited to the 2016 state visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to China and his soft stance on the South China Sea dispute.
Six bilateral agreements were signed last month while Duterte was in China for the Boao Forum for Asia. One of the agreements, signed by Dominguez and Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, covers broad economic and technical cooperation between the two countries. Duterte also sought to boost military and defense cooperation with China.