MANILA -- Thirteen Philippine banks, together with Bank of China, launched on Tuesday a trading community to make transacting using the Chinese currency cheaper and easier.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the Philippine Renminbi Trading Community would help lessen frictions for direct trade, investment and tourism.
With invoices using yuan, Dominguez said firms could save up to 3 percent of the transaction value. Establishing a similar platform for the Japanese yen is the next step, he said.
"We hope this will help financial trade between the Philippines and China prosper," Banker's Association of the Philippines president Nestor Tan said.
Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier said the yuan, as an alternative to the dollar, could lead to less volatility in the the foreign exchange market.
In October 2016, the Bangko Sentral included the yuan in its international reserves that are dominated by the US dollar.
President Rodrigo Duterte reset relations with China when he assumed office in June 2016, refusing to flaunt Manila's victory in a UN-backed arbitration court.
Duterte's predecessor, former president Benigno Aquino, initiated the arbitration case, saying China's vast claims to the South China Sea had no legal basis.
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Department of Foreign Affairs Sec. Teddy Locsin Jr. in Davao City on Monday, during which he said China is the Philippines' "sincere and trustworthy friend."
Wang said Chinese companies were also willing to help Filipino energy companies.