Duterte in China: Deals worth $19b clinched, 1m jobs to be created

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (left) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) after a signing ceremony in Beijing, China, on Oct 20, 2016.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (left) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) after a signing ceremony in Beijing, China, on Oct 20, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

BEIJING • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte garnered deals worth US$13.5 billion (S$18.8 billion) during his four-day state visit to China.

A 400-strong business delegation accompanied the President on his visit, which was aimed at boosting bilateral trade and investments. Mr Duterte was also seeking loans to help develop the Philippine economy.

At a business forum yesterday, Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said both sides had inked pacts which would create some one million jobs for Filipinos in areas mostly outside metropolitan Manila.

Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed to extend US$6 billion worth of soft loans to Manila with another US$3 billion in credit facilities through the private Chinese banks, according to Philippine media.

Mr Duterte's anti-drugs drive would get an additional boost with 100 million yuan (S$20.7 million) committed to the building of rehabilitation centres, said the reports.

Other pacts reached included cooperation in areas such as transport, infrastructure, agriculture and tourism.

Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters yesterday that China would cancel a tourism advisory against the Philippines and start encouraging out-bound tourists to visit the country. On the trade front, he said China would also lift the ban on 27 blacklisted fruit exporters from the Philippines.

Bilateral trade between China and the Philippines now stands at US$17 billion, according to Mr Lopez. He said Manila hoped that the target of US$60 billion would be reached in five years with the warming of ties. He also looked forward to the doubling or even quadrupling of Chinese tourist numbers from the current 500,000 a year "once the doors open up".

Mr Duterte and his delegation are scheduled to have another meeting today with their Chinese counterparts where more business deals are set to be sealed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2016, with the headline 'Deals worth $19b clinched, 1m jobs to be created'. Print Edition | Subscribe