Manila and Beijing signed on Thursday six bilateral agreements, covering two big-ticket projects under President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program and cooperation in trade, customs and communications. 

Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua and Philippine officials led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III witnessed the signing and exchange of the bilateral documents, which followed a high-level meeting to discuss financing cooperation and development initiatives.

“We welcome this high-level engagement, as we underscore the importance of assessing where we stand, while providing added impetus in our efforts to achieve our objectives and deliverables,” Dominguez said at the start of the meeting at the Ayuntamiento de Manila headquarters of the Bureau of the Treasury in Intramuros, Manila.

Hu, in response, said: “I’ll be happy to work together with you, Mr. Secretary, to implement the important consensus of our two heads of state and to promote the better development of our cooperation.”

The Chinese leader noted that bilateral trade between the two countries, based on Chinese data, amounted to $55 billion in 2018 and reached $44 billion in the first three quarters of this year. 

Hu also cited the significant increase in Chinese investments in the Philippines and the increasing number of Chinese tourist arrivals.

Officials signed the following agreements:

  • Feasibility study for the Davao City Expressway Project conducted by CCCC Highway Consultants Co., Ltd., and funded by grant financing from the Chinese government.
  • Feasibility study for the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Island Bridge Project, also conducted by CCCC Highway Consultants Co., Ltd., and funded by a grant from the Chinese government. 
  • The Philippine Radio Equipment Project, which provides for the Chinese donation of broadcasting equipment to the Philippine Broadcasting Service of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
  • The China-Aid Container Testing Equipment covering the donation of four sets of Mobile Container/ Vehicle Inspection System and two sets of CT Scan Inspection System to the Bureau of Customs.
  • Implementation of the Marawi Sports Complex and Central Market Projects as part of the reconstruction program for the devastated city of Marawi.
  • Protocol on Phytosanitary Requirements for the Export of Avocado from the Philippines to China.

The two countries have so far signed three loan agreements amounting to $493.08 million. The Philippines has secured a total of $430.82 million worth of grants from China since 2016. (