Govt team off to Beijing for $15-B investment deals

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 22 2017 02:01 PM

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) is shown the way by Chinese President Xi Jinping before a signing ceremony held in Beijing, China, October 20, 2016. Ng Han Guan, Reuters

MANILA - A high-level delegation from the Philippines will meet with key Chinese officials in Beijing this week to further hammer out some $15-billion worth of economic deals that President Duterte forged with China last year.

The economic agreements, which were signed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Duterte's behalf, include the following:

- the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation, which provides Manila with a 100-million yuan grant to implement projects for "anti-illegal drugs and law enforcement security cooperation;"

- a memorandum of agreement (MOU) in which China will provide financing support to feasibility studies for big-ticket projects in Philippine infrastructure, agriculture and rural development; and

- an MOU allowing Manila to tap funds from Export-Import Bank of China for major projects.

Filipino officials will hold separate meetings with China Vice Premier Wang Yang, Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) chairman Xu Shaoshi, and China Investment Corporation leaders to tackle the projects when they visit Beijing on Monday and Tuesday.

The Philippine delegation will be led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar and NEDA chief Ernesto Pernia.

These arrangements, together with some $9 billion worth of soft loans, comprise the $24 billion worth of aid and investment pledges that China committed to the Philippines during Duterte's state visit to Beijing last October.

Duterte has carried out a stunning U-turn in Philippines' foreign policy since assuming office last year, making overtures towards China while berating traditional ally the United States.

The President reiterated last month he wanted to avoid confrontation with China and saw no need to press Beijing to abide by a July ruling on China's claims in the disputed South China Sea that went in favor of the Philippines.

China's foreign ministry said Thursday that Duterte will visit China for the second time in May to attend a multilateral summit.